Tag Archives: gorillas

Dog vaccination in Iraaro village

Today we a team from Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) comprising of Stephen Rubanga, David Matsiko, Kityo Emmanuel and Alex Nabirano went to Iraaro to do dog vaccination with Dr. Lynn Murrel. 26 dogs were vaccinated against rabbies a zoonotic disease that can be harmful to human beings and wildlife especially the gorillas. Well done the team!DSCN0095

Cleveland Zoo Promotes Livestock Health for Mountain Gorilla Conservation

By Agaba Hillary Kumanya
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP), a UNESCO world heritage site in south-western Uganda is habitat to an estimated half of the world’s population of the critically endangered mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) with cross species disease transmission between gorillas, people and livestock being one of the most significant threats.

Most lands immediate to the park are used for grazing and pasture

A livestock farm set right away at the forest edge.

Around BINP is one of the highest human population densities in Africa. Consequently, there is 1) increased sharing of natural resources including land and water between mountain gorillas, livestock and humans, and 2) a hard edge between the park boundary and the community with animals often grazed to the edge of the park. Inevitably, implications in terms of disease transmission for the rich biodiversity of BINP and to public health for the local communities exist.
Human public health interventions around Bwindi have been enormous but there has been some disregard to livestock health.


Nevertheless, the importance of livestock health to mountain gorilla conservation and public health around Bwindi is clear – for example the presence of pathogens, such as Cryptosporidia and Giardia in livestock as well as in humans and mountain gorillas recognizes and calls for the “One Health” approach. Livestock as a major livelihood source can also impact significantly on natural resource conservation.

Sedentary and communal livestock keeping common around Bwindi may spread livestock diseases.

Sedentary and communal livestock keeping common around Bwindi may spread livestock diseases

This project supported by Cleveland Zoo, USA seeks to generate information and effective strategies for improving local community livestock husbandry practices that enable risk reduction of disease spread between livestock and gorillas and people.

A livestock farm set right away at the forest edgeHazy picture taken at a range of a livestock kraal in a valley bottom that may be a source of water and environmental contamination

There is a great need to establish sustainable and financially viable environmentally friendly herd health programs around BINP and to address several issues regarding livestock health such as setting up water quality protection, prevention and control of chronic zoonotic diseases such as TB and brucellosis, and understanding current livestock keeping practices around BINP, which will help design and advance conservation and environmentally sustainable livestock husbandry practices.
The outcomes will enable Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) to design strategies for educating and sensitizing local communities. CTPH, a US registered charity and Ugandan NGO, is promoting gorilla conservation by enabling people, wildlife and livestock to co-exist through improving primary health care to people and animals in and around Africa’s protected areas.

Most lands immediate to the park are used for grazing and pastureMost lands immediate to the park are used for grazing and pasture

A student’s conservation efforts in Uganda

Melinda Hershey, a fourth-year health education undergraduate student, is spending her final quarter at UC interninguganda2 in Uganda with an organization called Conservation Through Public Health. During her ten weeks in Uganda, Melinda will conduct sanitation and family planning surveys throughout the Bwindi area, and develop materials to complement these efforts.

She is primarily working with the Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) group located at a camp in Bwindi, meeting members of the community and working with them on issues that affect public health and population, like sanitation and family planning.

CPTH began as a conservation effort aimed to protect the world’s largest population of mountain gorillas in the Ugandan region. When it became clear that this area, also one of the most impoverished nations in the world, was experiencing the transmission of deadly diseases between animals and humans, the focus turned to improving public health and hygiene. They soon saw the benefits not only to the region’s population, but also to protect a sustainable source of income from gorilla tourism.

Melinda has already reported back to her UC professors this summer with a wealth of interesting experiences. “I traveled to Queen Elizabeth National Park to participate in a fact-finding mission about an Anthrax outbreak among hippos. This is a huge problem because there are not enough resources to dispose of the hippos, therefore causing a threat to the local human population as well.”

Melinda’s fieldwork began in July in the Mukono district, visiting the homes of community members. “I checked several elements of hygiene within their homes (latrines, showers, water storage) and also spoke to them about family planning. They speak a local language (Rukiga) so I had a translator with me to interpret,” says Melinda. She has also visited two schools to speak with them about hygiene and family planning issues. “This community has an overwhelming need for better hygiene and sanitation education and resources, and they still have a lot to learn about appropriate methods of family planning. Hopefully we will be able to gather some good data to make a case for funding more endeavors.”

Melinda also noted that she had the opportunity to meet a local medicine man and see his office. She also witnessed the making of banana gin, called Waragi, being made while she was out and about in the community.

Aside from learning about Uganda’s health, Melinda hopes to absorb as much of the unique culture as possible. You can learn more about the mission of Conservation Through Public Health at www.ctph.org.

Positive change to the communities living near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Miriam Bifumbo is a Community Conservation Health Worker (CCHW) whose village Mukono is frequently visited by the two gorilla groups of Rushegura and Mubare. Her husband is a traditional healer. People from her village are amazed to see the communities living near the protected area of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park changing the way of living in a positive way. The above has been attributed to CTPH work and the commitment it has on the poorest people living around the protected areas.

Children from Nyamishamba playing in front of their household

Children playing in front of their home.

On 3rd January 2011, David Matsiko and Alex Ngabirano, both working with CTPH  visited Miriam Bifumbo. She narrated what she thinks the community have benefited from Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) programs since she took up her volunteer position with CTPH in 2007.

Miriam Bifumbo said that CTPH programs have changed the communities in a very positive way. ‘’Since 2007 I have noticed an improvement in very many households in my village. People sweep their houses and compounds, women no longer give birth at home  but rather at hospital, and there is improved hygiene and sanitation especially in women whenever they are passing through public places” Miriam stated.

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Community Conservation Health Workers (CCHWs) attending a Population Health and Environment (PHE) monthly meeting

She added that many people drink boiled water and have clean containers.  Men who did not mind about family planning have now started understanding the importance of family planning and sometimes accompany their women whenever they are going to get family planning service from the CCHWs. Many women now space child births by at least 2 years.  The above are attributed to the three CTPH programs that have contributed to the co-existence of people, wildlife and livestock.

Video Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka wins the green Oscar

Hi everyone, this is Lawrence writing – I’ve just figured out how to embed this video which we at CTPH are so proud about. Enjoy -Please join us in congratulating Gladys who has dedicated her life to saving Uganda’s endangered mountain gorillas. Leave comment and feel free to make a donation to this wonderful project.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/8tDRbZ80OAY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Thank you for your support and intrest in CTPH

Challenges of Gorilla Health Monitoring

Healthy infant mountain gorilla in Bwindi

Greetings, I am sorry that we have not been updating our blog; we have had a hectic few weeks of field activities and workshops in Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), not leaving enough time to post some blogs on Wildlife Direct. We hope to improve on this significantly, and plan to post blogs more regularly over the next few weeks.

I will start off by reporting on a case we had to deal with in our Wildlife Health Monitoring Program. On 5th May 2009 during routine visits to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park office, CTPH Wildlife Health Technician, Hilary Kumanya was informed by Edwin Kagoda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Senior Warden-in-Charge of Monitoring and Research, that an adult female gorilla in Habinyanja tourist group was carrying a dead infant gorilla on her back. On 6th May 2009, Hilary mobilised a team from CTPH and went with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) staff to keep track of the gorilla mother before she dropped her infant, we all feared that the body would get lost in the dense impenetrable forest. During the tourist visit, they realised that the female gorilla was no longer carrying her baby.

While the UWA ranger guide was hosting tourists, Hilary and CTPH Population, Health and Environment (PHE) Field Assistant, Alex Ngabirano went with UWA trackers, Geoffrey Kikoko and David Ujara, to search for the infant’s body. Luckily Geoffrey was able to find the body in the dense undergrowth of the forest on a trail about 100 metres from where the group was feeding and resting that day.

The gorilla health monitoring team led by Hilary, carried the infant’s body to the CTPH Gorilla Research Clinic in Bwindi, and performed the post-mortem examination. The necropsy revealed that the infant female gorilla most likely died from trauma after a fall, with the only significant sign being bleeding in the thoracic cavity. Samples were taken to Makerere University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine for histopathology and unfortunately because the body was too decomposed, the pathologists were not able to gain enough information on the cause of death or infant’s health status at the time of death.

Though the team was able to retrieve the body within one day from when the mother dropped it, the infant gorilla had already been dead for two days (estimated date of death 4th May 2009), and the body had started to autolyse.  It is not unusual for gorilla mothers to hold onto their babies for a few days after they have died. This case represents the challenges faced with getting a good gorilla post-mortem under warm and humid tropical rain forest conditions.

Please look out for our next update, which will be from our integrated Human Public Health Program!

Conserving Gorillas in Uganda.

Whitley Awards Prize Winner

Greetings, I am very excited to have the opportunity to blog on Wildlife Direct and be able to tell you about the work we are doing in Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH). Conservation Through Public Health is a grassroots NGO and US registered non-profit founded in December 2002 with a mission to promote conservation and public health by improving primary health care to people and animals in and around protected areas in Africa. Our vision is to prevent and control disease transmission where wildlife, people and their animals meet while cultivating a winning attitude to conservation and public health in local communities.

We started our first program in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to half of the world’s estimated 760 critically endangered mountain gorillas. While working as veterinary officer for Uganda Wildlife Authority in 1996 I led a team that investigated the first scabies skin disease outbreak in this extremely fragile population of mountain gorillas resulting in the death of an infant, that was traced to people living around the park who have very little basic modern health care and information on preventable zoonotic diseases. This made us realise that you cannot maintain the health of wildlife without taking into consideration the health and livelihoods of the people who they share a habitat with, particularly if they are closely genetically related such as people and great apes who share more than 98% genetic material.

We work closely with partners from different sectors including Uganda Wildlife Authority, Ministry of Health, Kanungu District local government, surrounding communities, NGOs, corporates and our donors to implement three integrated programs: Wildlife Health Monitoring, Human Public Health and Information Education and Communication.  In this blog we will mainly be reporting the work that we are doing in the Wildlife Health Monitoring and Human Public Health programs. Wildlife Direct has very generously allowed us to have a second blog to report the work we are doing in the Information Education and Communication program, which revolves around establishing multipurpose community telecentres for protected area communities to be able to learn how to use internet to improve their livelihoods, while learning how sustaining their livelihoods depends on healthy people, healthy wildlife, healthy ecosystems and sustainable ecotourism. We are looking forward to sharing with you our experiences, challenges and needs to continue this important work.

I would like to greatly thank everyone who has supported us so far, we would not have got this far without your encouragement and support. Last month was a very exciting month for Conservation Through Public Health. On 13th May 2009, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne presented me with the Whitley Gold Award for our work in Bwindi, this is a highly prestigious award given to grassroots nature conservationists making a real impact where they are working. We will use the funds from the award to better measure the conservation impact of our integrated public health and wildlife health monitoring work in Conservation Through Public Health. For more information please visit our website Conservation Through Public Health.