RabiesRabies Program

Gorilla Doctors views rabies in dogs as a threat to the gorillas and other wildlife because domestic dogs frequently enter the park. Most domestic dogs in the area are kept for protection or hunting and not as pets. Dogs tend to be kept outside at night and are expected to scavenge for themselves, so these animals sometimes enter the national park in search of food and water. Some dogs are also used by poachers to illegally hunt wildlife inside the park. The Gorilla Doctors regularly find dog footprints inside the park, and on several occasions have recovered the bodies of golden monkeys that appeared to have been killed by dogs. If one of these dogs were rabid, it could easily pass this lethal viral disease to wildlife, including gorillas, not to mention people.

Since 2006, Gorilla Doctors has worked with the Rwanda Agricultural Board to give vaccinate more than 1,000 domestic dogs and cats living around Volcanoes National Park. Prior to our program, very few dogs and cats in this area were vaccinated because most owners could not afford the $5 to $10 vaccine. 

Gorilla Doctors’ rabies program is designed to prevent rabies outbreaks through regular vaccinations and community education. Dr. Jean-Felix, the rabies program manager, trains local veterinarians to administer rabies vaccines and counsel their clients about proper care for their animals. The veterinarians visit clients individually throughout the year and also host rabies clinics at central locations. The clients' dogs and cats receive their rabies vaccines for free, thanks to supplies donated by the Gorilla Doctors.