Dr. Ricky and his winning photo of Buzinza’s baby

The week of August 18-24, Drs. Mike, Eddy, Ricky and Gaspard attended the International Primatological Society (IPS) congress in Nairobi, Kenya. The IPS Congress is held every two years, and is the most important meeting of biologists, ecologists, anthropologists, and veterinarians studying and conserving primates around the world.

“This year’s IPS Congress was exceptional in so many ways, from presentations on the latest and current research from professional primatologists, to learning new ideas in primate conservation and research,” said Dr. Ricky. “The community at IPS is a special group, and I look forward to deepening my relationships with these future colleagues I met at IPS. I had a fabulous time and will be digesting what I learned for a long time.”

Gorilla Doctors’ critical work was well represented in three talks given at the conference. In a symposium held on Tuesday August 21 entitled Bridging the Veterinary – Sanctuary – Conservation Continuum: Effective Use of Controversial Tools to Conserve Wild Apes, Dr. Mike presented a talk on “In situ Veterinary Care for Wild Eastern Gorillas as a Conservation Strategy.” This talk gave us the opportunity to give an overview of Gorilla Doctors’ core mission, to provide life-saving veterinary care and science to wild Eastern gorillas using a One Health approach.

In this same symposium, Mike also delivered a presentation on behalf of Dr. Tierra Smiley Evans, who conducted her graduate research with Gorilla Doctors but was unable to attend the conference. Her presentation was titled “Human herpes simplex virus -1 (HHSV) and reintroduction risks for free-ranging mountain gorillas in the Virunga Massif,” which shared results of her extensive collection and testing of dropped forage items from Virunga gorillas to obtain saliva samples for testing. Her study revealed that there was no evidence of exposure of mountain gorillas in the Virungas to HHSV.

On Wednesday August 22, Dr. Eddy gave a presentation in a symposium on Collective Conservation Impact: Collaboration across institutional, political and community scopes to conserve great apes in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo: his talk on “Veterinary intervention, capacity-building and research supporting great ape conservation in eastern DRC” allowed him the opportunity to go into greater detail on Gorilla Doctors’ work to provide life-saving veterinary care to endangered Grauer’s and mountain gorillas.

For Dr. Gaspard, “…it was particularly interesting to learn about the recent advances in non-invasive and field-based diagnostics by advanced laboratories around the world and tools and techniques that can be used to study diseases affecting nonhuman primates,” he said. “It was also great to be able to touch base and establish contact with experts in disease surveillance and discuss possible ways to collaborate in the future.”

baby gorilla teeth

Dr. Ricky’s award-winning photo of Buzinza’s baby

To cap off the week, Dr. Ricky’s entry in the Photo Competition won first prize, out of 55 photos entries! He took this photo of infant Buzinza, for whom he had a special fondness: “I had a passion for the infant because I was recording and studying tooth eruption. Unfortunately, this infant was killed by a wild gorilla… I was so sad to lose him!”

Gorilla Doctors looks forward to sending representatives to the next IPS Congress, which will be held in Quito, Ecuador in 2020.