Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gorilla Doctors Blog

Every year is the “Year of the Gorilla” for us

Blog by: Dr. Mike Cranfield, Executive Director, MGVP, Inc. and Dr. Kirsten Gilardi, Co-Directors, Mountain Gorilla One Health Program

The United Nations designated 2009 as the Year of the Gorilla. With the world’s attention drawn to these magnificent animals, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) was looked to more than ever for providing expertise on health issues affecting gorilla conservation.

The year 2009 was also unique in that we all experienced the worldwide epidemic of an infectious disease: H1N1, better known as the swine flu. This pandemic reinforced the concept that diseases emerge and can spread very quickly around the world by modern human activities. This was important for our organization, because the largest threat to the survival of the mountain gorilla, with only 700 animals left in the wild, is disease, especially diseases they can contract from people. For this reason, the “one health” approach to mountain gorilla conservation that the MGVP has always taken has never been more important. And so this year, the MGVP transformed itself into a new and even more powerful organization, the Mountain Gorilla One Health Program, by partnering with the Wildlife Health Center, at the University of California Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. This partnership provides incredible depth, expertise and capacity to the mountain gorilla health program we started in 1986. The Mountain Gorilla One Health Program takes into consideration the fact that the health of the gorillas is intimately linked to the health of other wildlife in the park, and of the people and their livestock surrounding the Park.

With tremendous pride and gratification, the MGVP just moved two orphan mountain gorillas, Ndeze and Ndakasi, to a new facility, thanks to the herculean efforts of Ms.Raemonde Bezenar and the Canadian friends of MGVP, who sponsored the construction of this new Senkwekwe Centre in Rumangabo, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The orphans had been living in sub-optimal conditions in Goma, whereas Senkwekwe is a beautiful forest sanctuary. In collaboration with Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, the MGVP continues to care for eight additional gorilla orphans in our facility at Kinigi in Rwanda, as


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