Research conducted in a timely manner

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, students from the University of Kent and Ohio University conducted research with CTPH on the impacts of mitigation measures to avoid disease transmission to great apes and on the willingness of the National Park’s visitors to comply with these measures. Their findings were published in 2018 and 2020 and have been instrumental in convincing the Ugandan government to adopt sanitary measures in the Parks for tourists and management staff, while reassuring the Uganda Wildlife Authority that this decision wouldn’t impact the number of visitors coming to the park.

CTPH also conducts routine research to monitor the health of the mountain gorilla population, focusing on those which stray out of the forest into communal land most often or those that have been habituated for gorilla tourism and, as such, are more likely to come into contact with human infections. This routine health monitoring and research is conducted by observing for clinical signs and collecting gorilla faecal samples (non-invasively, from gorilla night nests) each day and analysing the samples for pathogens, particularly those of zoonotic significance. By doing so, CTPH has developed an early warning system for any concerning infections and can address these as needed in a timely manner.

  • Willingness of the health monitoring team and researchers to conduct the studies
  • Mutual interest in the outcome of the research study
  • Government and Uganda Wildlife Authority’s (UWA) support of the research, aided by good working relationships between CTPH, UWA and other government departments
  • Current context of the COVID-19 pandemic leant relevance and urgency to the findings and encouraged rapid adoption of safer Great Ape viewing guidelines, in line with the findings
  • Working closely with relevant government institutions enables more effective conservation efforts
  • Involving academia in conservation projects through long-term partnerships allows for obtaining timely results on key issues for decision-making
  • Evidence based research lends legitimacy to advocacy actions