Coronavirus in Gorillas is a very big risk:Uganda has the world’s remaining mountain gorillas in the whole world along the other 4 countries in Africa to make about 1065 gorillas according to the last census in 2018.
Corona Virus is a big threat to these very much endangered mountain gorillas because we share 97.8% DNA.
This was concluded at in 2015, Scientists, led by researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. They discovered that 15% of the gorilla’s genome is nearer between gorillas and humans than it is between humans and chimpanzees; man’s closest animal relative.
The genomes of all three species are, regardless, extremely similar: humans and chimps share more than 98% of their genes, while humans and gorillas share more than 96%.
As the corona virus (C0VID-19) continues to spread rapidly around the world a lot of measures have been put in place recently by the Uganda wildlife authority and the government.
GORILLA TRACKING IS A NO GO ZONE.
Uganda recently announced its first to COVID-19 cases and slowly the numbers keep going up. This has led to the suspension of a lot of things including a lock down on any persons being Ugandans into Uganda by what so ever means.
The tourism industry is a big deal and thus forcing the closure of the countries golden hunt. The mountain gorilla tracking, chimpanzees as well as all the primates.
This means however that there will be no visiting of the few national parks where these reside. Bwindi impenetrable National Park, Mghahinga National Park and Kibale forest national park
In a public statement released by Uganda Wildlife Authority’s (UWA) Executive Director this morning, 25th March 2020, Uganda will with immediate effect suspend primate tourism and research until 30th April 2020.
All gorilla tracking safaris, chimpanzee trekking holidays, and trips to track golden monkeys among other primates will therefore be put on hold until the end of April.
Why the gorilla and chimpanzee suspension.
As said earlier the Gorillas and chimpanzees shear a great % with the human race. This however gives an upper hand to the gorillas to get infected with all the diseases that affect the humans. The same applies to the chimpanzees and most of the primates in the world.
Suspending primate’s visits and mostly the gorilla and chimpanzee tracking is for their best benefit. They should actually be washing hands, not touching their noses or eyes which is impossible because they tend to walk and eat using the same hands
Most conservationists have supported this move as well. Minimize disease transmission to our close relatives the mountain gorillas.
“Minimising human-mountain gorilla interaction, and the opportunity for disease transmission, is the priority”, Africa conservation manager at WWF-UK, Cath Lawson said. He adds that the recent gains in mountain gorilla numbers could rapidly reverse if the disease is introduced, so protection is key at this critical time. Courtesy of The Ugandan Tourist
Travel recommendations to the Uganda amidst the Coronavirus
Until further notice the Uganda government has locked down its mother land to stop the spread of the corona virus. And this has pushed us the tour practitioners as well as our governing board to put up new strategies which include the following.
- Delay their travel until a later date when the disease is globally contained and no longer considered a pandemic.
- All persons intending to travel should consider talking to their travel agents for the current updates.
- Rwanda and Uganda have offered a 2-year window within which tourists can reschedule their trips at no additional cost.
- The UWA will not refund any monies to any travel agent or individual persons.
- No one is allowed to access primates at this time.
Who is allowed to access the mountain gorillas and primates?
The Uganda wild life authority however is allowing a few medical teams, Daily trackers and doctors to still access the primates to keep entering the parks for evaluating and continued monitoring of the gorillas.
The following measures are put in place to control spread of Coronavirus in Parks
- Hand washing facilities with soap at their premises and on-board travel vehicles to the park
- To have recommended masks (N95) for all persons in contact with the Gorillas
- Keep a distance from the primates.
These measures include; avoiding handshakes and body-hugging, washing hands with disinfectants, regularly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces such as door handles. UWA has very much equipped its staff with the above.
WHO recommendations to prevent infection spread include;
- Regular hand washing with soap and water
- Covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
- Thoroughly cooking meat and eggs
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing
- To avoid possible infection from animals, avoid unnecessary unprotected contact with live animals and wash your hands thoroughly after contact with an animal and make sure your meat is cooked thoroughly before consumption.
Report any suspicious cases of COVID-19 to the toll-free numbers here: 0800 100066 and 0800 203033.