Saving a Species One Gorilla at a Time

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In This Issue
Orphans Prepare for Move
Dramatic Intervention in Congo
New Research at MGVP
Employee Profile: Dr. Fred
MGVP Receives Arcus Grant
Tuck Passes Away
Respiratory Outbreak Research Presented
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About the Us
The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project's Gorilla Doctors are dedicated to saving the mountain gorilla species one patient at a time. We are the only group providing wild mountain gorillas with direct, hands-on care. Research has proven that by intervening to save sick and injured gorillas, the Gorilla Doctors have helped the overall mountain gorilla population to increase.
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Gorilla Doctors News September 2010
Welcome to our first-ever monthly newsletter containing news and insights on what's happening at the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project! 
Orphans Prepare for Move to DR Congo 
AndreOrphan The Kinigi orphan facility is buzzing with new activity this month as we prepare the two mountain gorillas for their move to the Senkwekwe Center in Virunga National Park and the six Grauer's gorillas for their move to GRACE (Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education) in Kasuo.

The keepers have set the gorillas' transport crates in their enclosure for them to become familiar with and explore. Each morning and evening, the gorillas practice receiving juice on their lower lip as training for the oral sedative they will be given on their move day. Plus, new keepers have come from DR Congo to spend some weeks in Kinigi in order to meet and build the base for their future relationships with the gorillas. Read More

Gorilla Doctors Stage Dramatic Intervention of Silverback Mukunda in Virunga National Park

In one of the most dramatic mountain gorilla interventions ever staged, the Gorilla Doctors Jan, Eddy, Jacques, Mike, and Noel darted and anesthetized a gorilla who had traveled miles from Virunga National Park in DR Congo to a densely populated village. Mukunda, a silverback with an appetite for locals' crops and a penchant for wandering, was successfully driven and then carried on a custom-made gurney back to his forest home. This dangerous operation, which was carried out in the presence of hundreds of onlookers, would not have been possible without assistance from the Congolese Wildlife Authority (ICCN) rangers.


While the intervention achieved the immediate goal of returning Mukunda to the park, the larger of question of how to prevent Mukunda and other gorillas from leaving their protected habitat remains. ICCN is working hard in the area of community conservation and brainstorming about ways to mitigate the problem. Read More 


New Research at MGVP
To complement our efforts to save mountain gorilla lives in the field, we support research projects examining gorilla and ecosystem health issues. This September, James Hassell, a veterinary student at the Royal Veterinary College, and Jennifer Hogan, an epidemiology PhD candidate at UC Davis, are in residence at our regional headquarters in Rwanda for a new project.
The two are assessing the potential route of transmission of the intestinal protozoa Cryptosporidium and Giardia between domestic cattle, forest buffalo, and mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
Read More
Employee Profile: Dr. Fred Nizeyimana

Dr. Fred Nizeyimana joined the Gorilla Doctors this year as our Uganda In-Country Field Veterinarian and has been dedicated to monitoring the health of Uganda's nine habituated mountain gorilla groups ever since. Born in Kisoro, Uganda, Fred grew up in the shadow of the Virunga volcanoes of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. As a young man, he studied veterinary medicine at Makerere University in Kampala, where he had the opportunity to work on a gorilla research project in Mgahinga sponsored by MGVP.  Read More


MGVP Receives Arcus Foundation Grant 

We are very pleased to be supported for a third year by the Arcus Foundation, which recently granted MGVP more than $97,000 to help us improve the sustainability of mountain gorilla populations. The Arcus Foundation grants are essential to our operation. These new funds will be used to build capacity within MGVP, indentify skilled local veterinarians for advancement, and support our employee health program.
Tuck, Study Subject of Fossey, Passes Away

tuckOn September 5, Tuck, one of Dian Fossey's original study subjects, passed away after she exhibited signs of declining health for about a month. She was surrounded by members of Titus group--including her and Titus' son Segasira--who made their night nests around her body and kept vigil over her for a day and half. After her family moved away, she was wrapped in blankets and carried out of Volcanoes National Park, in accordance with park policy. Her body was delivered to MGVP's regional headquarters where the Gorilla Doctors performed a necropsy. At 38 years old, her body showed signs of various age related ailments but no immediate cause of death was found. Tissue and fluid samples will be sent back to the U.S. for further analysis.


"Tuck will continue to teach us about mountain gorilla health, even in her death," says Dr. Jan. "What we learn from her body will translate directly to conservation action through more informed decisions in the future. This is a difficult, but important aspect of our jobs. May Tuck's great gorilla spirit now be at peace."


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Respiratory Outbreak Research Presented

Dr. Kelly J. Stewart, one of our conservation advisors, gave a well-received presentation entitled "Profile of a Respiratory Outbreak in Mountain Gorillas" on behalf of MGVP at the International Primatological Society meeting in Kyoto, Japan, on September 14. The talk was based on a research paper co-authored by Dr. Kelly J. Stewart; Gorilla Doctors Mike, Magda, Kirsten, Lucy, and Jean-Felix; our pathologist Dr. Linda Lowenstine; and Diagnosticians Dr. Gustavo Palacios and Dr. Ian Lipkin.


Through their research, the group found that under present management techniques in the Virungas, human viruses are entering into the mountain gorilla population and have the potential to be fatal for the animals. Afterwards, a former Gorilla Doctor commented to the audience about how important the presentation was for gorilla tourism management and guideline enforcement.


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