Mentoring the next generation of wildlife health experts in Africa is a top priority for Gorilla Doctors. Thanks to a generous donation by attendees of our inaugural Gorilla Love fundraising event in Beverly Hills last November, we have been able to host two veterinary interns at our Regional Headquarters in Musanze, Rwanda. Both young men are completing an 8-month internship with our Gorilla Doctors and receive a monthly stipend to help offset their living expenses, thanks to the generosity of our committed donors.

Jean Claude and Gaspard, veterinary interns with Gorilla Doctors in Rwanda.

Meet the Interns

Gaspard Nzayisenga completed his Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from Umutara Polytechnic University in 2012. Soon after, he became a volunteer with the Gorilla Doctors PREDICT staff in Kigali, working for 7 months as a field assistant alongside Drs. Julius and Olivier, gaining valuable experience in field work.

“Participating in this unique internship will prepare me for my future career goals and aid in my growth as a conservationist” said Gaspard. “I love working in the field amongst experienced veterinarians and gaining hands on training. I want to be able to contribute to the conservation of wildlife in Rwanda, particularly endangered species like the mountain gorilla.”

Jean-Claude Tumushime also completed his Bachelors degree in veterinary medicine from Umutara Polytechnic in 2012. While the focus of his post-graduation training and experience was in dairy medicine, in his heart he wanted to work on wildlife conservation: among his career goals are to “strive to see that conservation imperatives are safeguarded at an excellent level” and “to keep learning so that I can improve my knowledge and skills in relation to veterinary medicine”.

Gaspard and Jean-Claude conduct a routine health check alongside Gorilla Doctors Field Vets and RDB staff.

Both interns have been working under Dr. Jean Felix Kinani, our Head Rwanda Field Veterinarian, and have shadowed Drs. Jean Felix and Noel on surgeries (such as dog neuters and spays), participated in an intervention to release an ensnared jackal, assisted in necropsies on deceased antelopes, buffalo and gorillas, observed the transfer of a Grauer’s gorilla orphan to GRACE, and conducted numerous routine health checks of the mountain gorilla groups in Volcanoes National Park (alongside Gorilla Doctors Rwanda Field Vets). Through this internship, Gaspard and Jean-Claude have been able to learn new laboratory procedures and how to generate reports for partners and contribute to the IMPACT database. They have also attended meetings and workshops on conservation over the last several months, such as the Rwanda Development Board Conservation Forum and the Annual Ranger Based Monitoring Workshop with RDB and stakeholders.

“Both Gaspard and Jean-Claude are proving to be great learners, eager to participate and contribute, both in the field and the laboratory” said Gorilla Doctors Director Kirsten Gilardi. “We love having them be part of our team!”