Drs. Eddy Kambale (left) and Jean Bosco Noheri (Noel) at their master’s degree graduation ceremony from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

The conservation of mountain and Grauer’s gorillas depends on the wholehearted commitment of the wildlife authorities and park personnel in all three countries with whom Gorilla Doctors works on a daily basis. The sustainability of mountain and Grauer’s gorillas also depends on the total dedication and incredible knowledge and experience of our Gorilla Doctors veterinarians.

While the clinical cases and interventions that our veterinarians handle year-round provide the best hands-on training available in the world, our Gorilla Doctors highly value their educations and are always eager to grow their knowledge. They have demonstrated over and over again their ability to bring new information and skills gained outside our organization (e.g. through training opportunities at sanctuaries, zoos, clinics, and hospitals) to bear on their daily work to save a species, one gorilla at a time.

For these reasons, wildlife veterinary medicine and health research capacity-building has been a huge focus for Gorilla Doctors for many years. Thanks to the support of many donors and an incredible partnership with the Houston Zoo, Gorilla Doctors has invested in the advanced training of our own staff, and in the training of other early-career wildlife veterinarians in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, by supporting their Masters degrees in Wildlife Health and Management at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda under the tutelage of Dr. John Bosco Nizeyi, and at the University of Rwanda, in Kigali. Currently, nine veterinarians are enrolled at Makerere University, including our own Drs. Martin, Gaspard and Jean-Claude.

We are thrilled to announce that this summer, Gorilla Doctors veterinarians Drs. Julius Nziza, Eddy Kambala Syaluha and Jean Bosco “Noel” Noheri all successfully completed their Master’s degrees.

From left: Dr. Eddy Kambale, Head Veterinarian, DRC; Dr. Julius Nziza, Head Veterinarian, Rwanda; Dr. Jean Bosco Noheri (Noel), Field Veterinarian, Rwanda.

In addition to coursework, they conducted important research on topics critical to the health and sustainability of eastern gorillas. Dr. Julius examined risk factors for patients presenting to clinics around Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda for non-malarial febrile illnesses. Dr. Eddy studied the potential toxicity of forage plants for Grauer’s gorillas in Mt. Tshiaberimu National Park in DR Congo, and Dr. Noel investigated the epidemiology of 2016 respiratory illness outbreaks in mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. Dr. Fred conducted important research on patterns of antimicrobial resistance to human respiratory pathogens around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Uganda, and has just submitted his thesis for review by his advisors – graduation is imminent. All four Gorilla Doctors veterinarians are sharing their findings with our government partners, and will be preparing their research for publication in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.  Meanwhile, Drs. Martin, Gaspard and Jean-Claude have completed their coursework and are starting their research.

Please join us in congratulating Drs. Julius, Eddy, Noel and Fred! And another huge and heartfelt thanks to the Houston Zoo for helping Gorilla Doctors build capacity among our amazing staff: the Zoo’s support has allowed us to enroll our own staff and several other veterinarians, and has also provided critical funding to enable their fascinating research.