November saw a full visitor schedule to Gorilla Doctors’ regional headquarters in Rwanda, beginning with the opportunity to meet with the British High Commissioner to Rwanda, Ms. Joanne Lomas on November 17th. Drs. Julius Nziza and Jean Bosco (Noel) Noheri introduced Ms. Lomas to the work of Gorilla Doctors and our impact on mountain gorilla conservation in Rwanda.

British High Commissioner, Joanne Lomas, at Gorilla Doctors’ regional HQ. Musanze, Rwanda.

The purpose of Ms. Lomas’ visit with Gorilla Doctors was to gain a broader understanding of mountain gorilla tourism and conservation efforts in advance of the 2020 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. It is expected that leaders from all fifty-three commonwealth countries will attend a week-long summit in Kigali and as part of their experience, may be introduced to leading NGO’s in gorilla conservation, including Gorilla Doctors. During her tour we discussed our mission, history, and most importantly, our critical work to address health threats to the long-term conservation of mountain gorillas. The 2020 Summit is in June, and Gorilla Doctors looks forward to introducing our work to such an esteemed group of international leaders.

Global Diplomats Support Gorilla Doctors

On November 26th, Gorilla Doctors was honored to host several diplomats representing Belgium, Japan, Germany and the Czech Republic. In his presentation, Dr. Noel provided an overview of Gorilla Doctors and mountain gorilla conservation, beginning with the discovery of mountain gorillas in 1902 through to the establishment of Gorilla Doctors in 1986, highlighting our current mission, challenges and successes. Naturally, Dr. Noel stressed the critical importance of international partnership in contributing to the recovery of mountain gorillas, the only great ape whose numbers are increasing in the wild.

Following a vibrant Q&A session, Lt. Colonel BEM Cedric Billiet, Belgian Defence Attaché to Rwanda, presented a generous donation to Gorilla Doctors: “On behalf of this delegation I have to say that you guys are doing an extraordinary job in saving these gorillas, yet you are humble and don’t even consider yourself heroes.”

Lt. Colonel BEM Cedric Billiet, Belgian Defence Attache to Rwanda at Gorilla Doctors’ regional HQ. Musanze, Rwanda.

The group also enjoyed a tour of Gorilla Doctors’ laboratory with the German Deputy Head of Mission, Renate Charlotte Lehner, who organized the event, noting the use of German laboratory equipment being used to help gorillas. As so often happens in Rwanda, the rain brought a natural conclusion to the event, with Gorilla Doctors’ Data Clerk, Clementine Usanase concluding: “I was so happy to see these leaders paying a visit and I undoubtedly think what they learned will be conveyed to their respective embassies and countries.”

Gorilla Doctor Jean Bosco (Noel) Noheli presents Gorilla Doctors’ history and work to global diplomats.