Nov 20, 2020

COVID-19 related poaching surge threatens Gorillas report: November 2020

Distribution of ready to grow seedlings
Distribution of ready to grow seedlings

The last progress report for the “COVID-19 related poaching surge threatens Gorillas” project was developed in July 2020.

The report was submitted at a time when people around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) were in dire need of food because of the absence of tourism which was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With your continued support, we have been able to raise $13,715.40 of our $20,000 goal from 30 donors with 1 monthly donor and 1 fundraiser.

With these funds, the following activities were achieved, which helped towards the successful implementation of the Ready to Grow Project which seeks to meet the nutritional needs of at risk people around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP), helping to prevent a dependence on hunting and natural resources to meet nutritional needs.

The ready to grow seeds and seedlings including tomatoes, onions, cabbages, kale, spinach, beans, groundnuts, maize, sweet potatoes and amaranth were purchased and planted in a nursery bed which was constructed at the CTPH field office in Buhoma, on the outskirts of BINP, in September 2020.

The mobilization, identification and sensitization of most at risk and most in need beneficiaries was successfully done in October 2020 up to the beginning of November 2020.

Amidst much excitement and relief from the community members, the distribution of the ready to grow garden kits began at the beginning of November 2020 with the following categories of beneficiaries given priority because they were most affected by the lack of tourism:

  • Reformed Poachers
  • Porters
  • Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs)
  • Members of the community-based tourism sector who previously sold items such as crafts and food to tourists
  • Batwa Community
  • Human and Gorilla Conflict resolution teams (HUGOs)
  • Local Council chairpersons (LC1s)

These seedlings will start to provide food for the households within 1-3 months when harvesting can begin. The Monitoring, support and follow up of beneficiaries will continued in December onwards.

Martin displaying the ready to grow seedlings
Martin displaying the ready to grow seedlings
CTPH Team Distributing ready to grow seedlings
CTPH Team Distributing ready to grow seedlings
Women working on a ready to grow nursery bed
Women working on a ready to grow nursery bed
Ready to grow nursery bed with a view of Bwindi
Ready to grow nursery bed with a view of Bwindi
Ready to grow seedlings on a distribution track
Ready to grow seedlings on a distribution track

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Nov 6, 2020

Gorilla Guardians of Bwindi, Uganda Report November 2020

Dr Gladys and CTPH team tracking Nkuringo Gorilla
Dr Gladys and CTPH team tracking Nkuringo Gorilla

This report outlines progress on Conservation Through Public Health’s project on GlobalGiving, The Gorilla Guardians of Bwindi, Uganda #44078.

Our last report on this project was submitted in July 2020. By this time, we had raised $2,100 from 16 donors. Two of these donors were monthly recurring donors. Since then, our supporters towards this project have grown in number from 16 to 20 with one 1 more monthly donor which made it possible to raise $2,756, against our $10,000 goal. With this generous support from our GlobalGiving donors, we have continued to strengthen our gorilla health monitoring program around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Rafiki’s Family

In August 2020, our Team, led by Dr.Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, visited Nkuringo gorilla group - Rafiki’s group – to check how they were doing after he was killed by a bush meat poacher in June 2020. During the visit to Nkuringo, the team was humbled by the zeal and determination exhibited by the gorilla guardians to protect the remaining family members after the unexpected death of Rafiki. It was also evident that they all missed Rafiki because they were wearing face masks bearing his name.

The team found out that the gorillas had begun to settle down and the oldest adult male blackback, Rwamutwe, had assumed his role as leader of the group, with Tabu taking up the second-in-command role. The family group currently has 11 individuals with three females with 3 babies.

Wonderful news following devastation of death of Rafiki

In the last report, we told you of the news of the birth of two baby Gorillas in Nshongi and Muyambi gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. We are delighted to let you know that this has been followed by a series of other new babies in what is currently being referred to as the "gorilla baby boom".

Below are some of the groups that have welcomed new babies since our last report.

• Mubare gorilla group in July 2020

• Oruzogo gorilla group in July 2020

• Rushegura gorilla group in August 2020

• Mucunguzi gorilla group in September 2020

• Rushegura gorilla group in September 2020

• Nyakagezi gorilla Group in September 2020

• Kutu gorilla group in October 2l 020

• Mukiza gorilla group in October 2020.

This thrilling ‘gorilla baby boom’ is attributed in large part to the hard work of the gorilla guardians who volunteer their time to protect the health and wellbeing of the endangered mountain gorillas. It is particularly poignant given that those involved in conservation, particularly the conservation of gorillas, are facing perhaps their biggest challenge yet with hunting and poaching on the rise, driven by COVID-19 associated increased poverty and desperation, and the added threat of COVID-19 spread to closely related gorillas.

Training of Gorilla Guardians

Between 29th September and 3rd October 2020, the CTPH team travelled to Bwindi to train Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs) and gorilla guardians from six frontline parishes around Bwindi in measures to prevent COVID-19 spread among people and from people to gorillas.

During this training, face masks procured from Ride4AWoman were given to each participant. They were also given hand sanitizers to use whenever they are carrying out community visits or monitoring the gorillas.

The team managed to visit Mubare Gorilla Group to see how the group was doing and check on the babies welcomed during the ‘baby boom’. We first collected gorilla fecal samples from the group’s night nests before meeting members of Mubare group. The group was found feeding well with 4 females and 4 babies under the leadership of Silverback, Maraya. Another visit was in mid-October where Dr Gladys led a team to check on the new babies in Rushegura gorilla group. All babies the babies and the entire group were healthy and feeding well.

Black back-Rwamutwe leader of Nkuringo Group
Black back-Rwamutwe leader of Nkuringo Group
Porter wearing a mask in memory of Rafiki
Porter wearing a mask in memory of Rafiki
Gorilla fecal sample collection in Mubare group
Gorilla fecal sample collection in Mubare group
Mukiza group-Photo by Uganda Wildlife Authority
Mukiza group-Photo by Uganda Wildlife Authority
Tracking Mubare gorilla group
Tracking Mubare gorilla group
Ride4AWoman making face masks
Ride4AWoman making face masks

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Jul 27, 2020

COVID-19 related poaching surge threatens Gorillas project progress report July 2020

The COVID-19 related poaching surge threatens Gorillas project was launched after Rafiki, one of Bwindi's silverback mountain gorillas from Nkuringo gorilla group, was killed on June 1st by bush meat poachers.

Rafiki's killing has been attributed to the absence of tourism around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, due to the national lock down and ban on primate tourism since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Uganda. This has left very many people jobless and impoverished around Bwindi where community members were previously heavily dependent on tourism for employment. The park has seen a spike in people entering the forest illegally to hunt for animals such as duikers and bush pigs which share the same habitat with the endangered mountain gorillas.

We have raised $9,025 out of our target of $20,000 from 16 donors, with 1 monthly donor and 1 fundraiser since the project was launched 4 months ago. Funds raised from this project will provide nutritional support to people around Bwindi with nutrient-rich, fast-growing, low-maintenance food crops which can be grown with minimal inputs and space. 

The following activities have been accomplished to date:

  • Developed an implementation strategy to reach the target groups.
  • Conducted internal planning sessions and developed a budget for the program.
  • Implemented a survey around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to identify crops and vegetables which are preferred by target communities and are suitable for the prevailing climatic conditions. 

The following activities are scheduled to be accomplished between August and December 2020.

  • Procurement of planting materials including seeds such as tomatoes, onions, cabbages, kales, spinach, beans, groundnuts, maize, sweet potatoes and amaranth
  • Nursery bed construction
  • Mobilization and identification of most at risk and most in need beneficiaries
  • Sensitization and training of beneficiaries
  • Distribution of the ready to grow garden kits
  • Monitoring and follow up of beneficiaries. 

At the beginning of July 2020, Conservation Through Public Health was selected to receive a $1,000 micro grant from GlobalGiving which will be a great boost towards achieving this project’s planned activities.

Thank you very much for all your invaluable support.

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