Every year, our laboratories and field offices in Rwanda, DRC, and Uganda are outfitted with newly donated equipment and supplies, gradually broadening our capabilities and strengthening our capacity building efforts in the region. We rely on the generosity of companies such as Abaxis Europe, who has supplied our veterinarians with critical laboratory equipment like hematology and iStat machines and VS2 chemistry analyzers since 2011. Last week, Abaxis representative and long-time friend of Gorilla Doctors Bärbel Köhler made her annual trip to our Rwanda headquarters, equipped with a new VetScan VS2 and HM5 Hematology System.

Bärbel Köhler

Abaxis rep and Gorilla Doctors supporter Bärbel Köhler.


When Bärbel arrived in Rwanda, she made the ~2 hour drive to our Musanze regional headquarters and set up the new HM5 system in the lab with Regional Manager Dr. Jan and Rwanda Field Vet Dr. Noel. “Gorilla Doctors is very grateful to have this machine in our laboratory” said Dr. Jan. “With this system, we can continue to use top level hematology diagnostics to provide the best health care we can to the gorillas.”

Dr. Noel and Bärbel Köhler

Dr. Noel and Bärbel Köhler set up the HM5 system in the Musanze laboratory.


After a day in Musanze, Bärbel and Dr. Jan crossed the Rwanda/DRC border into Goma and arrived at the Gorilla Doctors Goma office / Laboratoire Veterinaire de Goma/Nord-Kivu. Here, Bärbel efficiently set up the VS2 and HM5 machines and conducted a thorough training session with Gorilla Doctors DRC lab manager and Employee Health Program manager Jean Paul (JP) Lukusa, as well as the Gorilla Doctors DRC field veterinarians and the regional veterinarians at the lab.


Bärbel with Gorilla Doctors

Bärbel with Gorilla Doctors DRC staff in Goma.


Bärbel conducts a training session with the Gorilla Doctors staff and regional vets in Goma.

Bärbel conducts a training session with the Gorilla Doctors staff and regional vets in Goma.

This event and installation of equipment was actually emotional for JP: “Having the ability to do our own labwork for gorilla medical cases has been our dream for years. Finally Congo has a functional laboratory, and the training to use it for endangered gorilla care.  We thank you Bärbel.”  Baerbel was also able to give a presentation on Abaxis projects worldwide including work being done at Jane Goodall sanctuaries, orangutan conservation projects and others, which was very interesting to the team in Goma.

Gorilla Doctors staff, regional veterinarians and Bärbel gather for a photo outside of the Goma lab.

Gorilla Doctors staff, regional veterinarians and Bärbel gather for a photo outside of the Goma lab.

Wrapping things up in Goma, Bärbel and Dr. Jan made the drive to Rumangabo to visit the Senkwekwe Center where the 4 mountain gorilla orphans (Maisha, Ndakasi, Ndeze, and Matabishi) live so that she could see the animals Abaxis is helping to conserve. Additionally, Abaxis equipment is being used at the GRACE sanctuary for Grauer’s gorillas in DRC and a future training session was discussed.

Abaxis is also supporting conservation of other wildlife in the region with a sizable donation of rotors and reagents for special projects, such as the Crowned Crane Conservation project (directed by former Gorilla Doctor Olivier Nsengimana). Bärbel was able to visit the Crowned Crane project in Kigali while she was in Rwanda and made a donation of avian/reptile rotors.

The Gorilla Doctors would like to thank Abaxis Europe Managing Director Achim Henkel and Manager of Business Development Bärbel Köhler for their generous support of our work.

About Abaxis:

Abaxis’ mission is to supply point of care blood analyzers to the medical market and the veterinarian market. Providing leading edge technology, tools and services that support best medical practices, Abaxis enables physicians and veterinarians to respond to the health needs of their clients while operating economical and profitable practices. Abaxis is headquartered in northern California, USA, and contains operations around the world. www.abaxis.com