COVID-19 continues to pose a major threat to people and endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi, Uganda. Limited awareness and poor access to healthcare compound risk. Transmission of COVID-19 to the closely related mountain gorillas would be catastrophic for the species. We must protect both people and gorillas by urgently supporting 59 Village COVID-19 Taskforce committees to continue conducting home-based care, community surveillance and prevention awareness and continuing to test gorillas.
Impoverished communities around Bwindi have poor access to health care information and services, leaving them at high risk of COVID-19 infection. Their neighbours - the endangered Mountain Gorillas - being so closely related to humans, are also at high risk of COVID-19 infection when they range in community land. With healthcare facilities already under-resourced, we need to reduce spread of COVID-19 among local communities which will in turn reduce risk of transmission from people to gorillas.
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) will train community volunteers - Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs) and Village COVID-19 Taskforce committees (including health officials, wildlife managers, local leaders, schools and religious institutions) - to support community surveillance and contact tracing, isolation and shielding of vulnerable people, safely manage home-based care cases, and increase community awareness on prevention and vaccination through peer communication.
Your support will greatly help to ensure the survival of 43% of the World's remaining mountain gorillas, as well as supporting the health of community members and other local residents. Without urgent action, including to promote vaccination since only 2% of the population are currently fully vaccinated, COVID-19 will have drastic consequences for Bwindi, it's endangered gorillas and surrounding communities and we risk losing some of our closest primate cousins.