The links between public and wildlife health became clear in Bwindi when skin disease outbreaks in the critically endangered mountain gorillas were traced back to local communities. Relations with these communities are key to the success of the National Park, and CTPH Founder Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka recognised that public health improvements would be of huge benefit to them.
Village Health & Conservation Teams (VHCTs) have reached over 25,000 people to promote good hygiene practices, disease prevention and control, family planning, and good nutrition, whilst also sharing conservation messages. CTPH supports local development with Saving & Loan Associations, community internet facilities, and social enterprises such as Gorilla Conservation Coffee and the Gorilla Conservation Camp for students and tourists. It also runs a sophisticated Gorilla Health and Community Conservation Centre which tests samples from gorillas, livestock and people to detect any increase in diseases that could be transferred between species. Conflict resolution teams are responsible for safely chasing gorillas back into the Park when they encroach on community land.
Tusk initially helped CTPH to build the Gorilla Health and Community Conservation Centre, funding improvements including a laboratory and rainwater harvesting system. Since then we have funded day-to-day costs like fuel, staff salaries, communication links and gorilla monitoring activities.
CTPH is a visionary project which is constantly looking for ways to expand its unique approach. Funds are always needed to maintain the crucial activities around Bwindi and replicate them elsewhere.