The Mountain Gorilla Conservation Society of Canada, (MGCSC) is asking for your support to provide three (3) scholarships in “Wildlife Health and Management”. These scholarships recipients will begin their studies in August 2020.
The Rotary Action Group Endangered Species, (RAGES) and MGCSC are working together “to address environmental issues that affect the poor, low income and underserved communities through resource management, environment and conservation studies, resilience planning and preparedness.”
Your donation will help increase the number of wildlife healthcare professionals in the field. It will help secure the future of wild gorillas and directly impact the economy, the health of the local people and their livestock, These specialized wildlife veterinarians are known as Gorilla Doctors. The efforts of Gorilla Doctors plays a significant role in increasing the number in mountain gorillas in the wild.
Your tax deductible donations (in the USA) can be sent sent using PayPal via Lake Chelan Rotary Community and International Fund or via mail to RAGES. PO Box 601, Chelan WA. 98816 USA.
Contributions can be made by: Individuals, Rotarians, Rotary Clubs, Rotary Districts or Organizations with an interest in Wildlife Management.
Gorillas are some of the most endangered mammals in the world. Threatened by the loss of habitat destruction, poaching, war and disease, and encompassed by some of the most densely populated areas in Africa. The world’s remaining mountain gorillas live on high-altitude volcanoes, in just two protected areas spanning the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
In 1963, Dian Fossey, went to Africa to monitor the last remaining 250 gorillas in the wild. Dian soon changed her focus to conservation. 57 years later, the recent census of the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga Massif National Park has indicated the numbers have increased to 1063. This is the result of the commitment and efforts of Gorilla Doctors, local rangers, park authorities, governments, local communities and many other organizations.
Gorilla trekking is the heart of the tourism industry and accounts for 90% of revenue in Rwanda. Tourism generates millions of dollars in which part of that revenue goes back into the local communities creating jobs, infrastructure like building new schools, better roads and ultimately “Gorillas are the key” to benefiting the very poor and underserved communities that surround the national parks and beyond.
Tourism is also a great risk to all gorillas because of the transmission of disease cause by humans. Gorillas share 98.5% the same DNA as humans. Which makes gorillas very susceptible to catching the same diseases. Their immune systems are not developed to fight off these diseases, which can lead to a rapid decline in their population.
Above, Raemonde Bezenar visiting a family of gorillas in the DRC. Raemonde Bezenar is the MGCSC Executive Director and Rotary RAGES Director for Mountain Gorilla Conservation.
The One-Health Approach promotes animal, human and ecosystem health and studies diseases shared between species. Animal to human and human to animal disease transmission are of concern for all. The One-Health Approach involves wildlife and livestock veterinarians, local physicians, public health professionals, ecologists, politicians and communities.
The interaction of people with wildlife, through human encroachment into gorilla habitat, requires an interdisciplinary approach to fight communicable and infectious diseases in both the local communities, livestock, domestics and gorillas with other wildlife, at that human interface to epidemic which could arise and cause a negative impact to the community’s economic development. As shown in 2002, the Ebola virus decimated 95% of the western lowland gorilla population. The people and the communities suffered economically from the loss of life, wildlife and tourism that supported the local economies. Today we are once again experiencing the Ebola virus in many regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
We must bear in mind, that one of the principal threats to Gorilla Conservation is the poverty of the communities around them. The scholarship program in “Wildlife Health and Management” is an investment and plays key role in the future for the region providing leadership to improve the health and welfare for everyone.