Conservation through Public Health
One of Population Connection’s earliest partners was Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH). CTPH, based in Uganda, is an award-winning leader in gorilla and wildlife conservation. CTPH’s vital mission is to focus on the health and interspecies relationships of wildlife, humans, and livestock in and around East Africa’s protected areas.
The organization works to improve the health and livelihoods of people by preventing and controlling disease transmission between closely genetically related species such as people and gorillas, cattle, and buffalo. One of the ways they do this is by expanding voluntary access to family planning to promote a sustainable balance between humans and gorillas.
Wildlife veterinarian and CTPH founder and CEO Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka (also known as “Dr. Gladys”) started CTPH in 2003 to stop the spread of diseases passing between people, wildlife, and livestock. Since then, CTPH has worked to reduce people’s dependence on protected lands and the wildlife that reside there, improving their health and wellbeing in the process.
CTPH got some great news this past summer, when two babies were born (in a single week!) to two different mountain gorilla groups in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, one baby gorilla was born to Nyampazi of the Mubare gorilla family, located in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi. The Mubare family leader is Silverback Maraya.
The second baby was born to Katoto of the Oruzogo gorilla family. Katoto was found nursing the little one on July 25, 2020. This birth marks Katoto’s first baby. Her family is led by Silverback Kagaanga.
The birth of these two babies raises the total number of gorillas in the Mubare and Oruzogo families to 9 and 15 members, respectively. It’s estimated that the global total number of endangered mountain gorillas is now 1,063, with 459 found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Other mountain gorilla populations are found in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Unfortunately, there’s also some sad news about COVID-19 and gorillas.
CTPH has been raising concern about the risk of transmission of this horrible disease to gorillas from humans who interact with them both inside and outside national parks.
Because these endangered gorilla species live in such close-knit family groups, COVID-19 infection poses an enormous danger, with the potential to completely wipe out family groups or sub-species.
As a result, CTPH has prioritized efforts to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 infection among people in the communities surrounding mountain gorilla habitats and humans to gorillas.
CTPH is also working with the Uganda Wildlife Authority to test mountain gorillas for SARS CoV-2 through non-invasive fecal sample collection, to enable an early warning system should cross-over infection occur.
About the Speaker
Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health
Dr. Gladys is a wildlife veterinarian and conservationist. After graduating from the University of London, she established the first veterinary department in the Uganda Wildlife Authority. She led a team that investigated the first scabies outbreak in mountain gorillas, which was traced back to the people living around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This led her to establish the non-profit Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) in 2003, which promotes the coexistence of people, gorillas, and other wildlife through addressing human and wildlife health together and improving alternative livelihoods in communities sharing their habitats with gorillas.