Gorilla Doctors

Gorilla Doctors is dedicated to saving the mountain and eastern lowland (Grauer’s) gorilla species one gorilla patient at a time. Our international veterinary team provides hands-on medical care to ill and injured mountain and Grauer’s gorillas living in the national parks of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With only 880 mountain gorillas, and an ever decreasing number of Grauer’s gorillas left in the world today, the health and well being of every individual gorilla is vital to the species’ survival. Our veterinary team regularly monitors the health of mountain and Grauer’s gorillas and intervenes to treat individuals with life-threatening illness or injury whenever possible. The Gorilla Doctors also help rescue and treat mountain and Grauer’s gorillas orphaned by poachers.

While critically endangered, mountain gorillas are the only great ape species whose numbers in the wild are growing. A 2010 census of the entire population living in the Virunga Massif showed a remarkable population increase of 26.3% over the previous 7 years. A 2011 study* of this same population showed that over a 22-year period the number of habituated gorillas—about 70% of the overall population—increased by 4.1% annually while the number of unhabituated gorillas decreased by 0.7% annually. Habituated gorillas are gorillas that have learned to accept humans in close proximity. The difference in these growth rates was attributed to the fact that habituated gorillas benefited from “extreme conservation” practices such as veterinary care. In fact, the work of the Gorilla Doctors may be responsible for up to 40% of the difference between the growth rates of the two subpopulations. Mountain gorillas have a fighting chance for survival if we continue to work to address conservation challenges.

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