One Health Medicine
We approach gorilla medicine from a “one health” perspective—a belief that the health of one species is inextricably linked to that of its entire ecosystem, including humans and other animal species. Research studies show that gorillas can become ill and even die as a result of coming into contact with zoonotic germs transmitted by people and other animals. The relationship is dynamic, given the movements of people and animals in and out of the national parks, creating countless opportunities for disease exchange. Conservation workers and tourists spend time with habituated gorilla groups on a daily basis. Gorillas can also venture outside the national parks, coming into contact with local people and their domestic animals. Gorilla Doctors cannot ensure the long-term health of mountain gorillas without addressing human and domestic animal health as well.
Gorilla Doctors first began developing human and domestic animal health projects in the late 1990s. Gorilla Doctors constantly looks for ways to strengthen its ongoing One Health-oriented programs and develop new approaches for conserving gorillas through new initiatives, which to date include:
When time and resources permits it, the Gorilla Doctors also consult on livestock and pet health issues in the region. In 2009, Gorilla Doctors helped establish a local-owned business in Rwanda producing alternative fuel briquettes composed of recycled materials as a way to combat deforestation. While that business is now independent, we continue to support the project as a client.