Germs

Posted on June 20, 2014

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Before I left Kinigi I met up with the director of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), Anna Behm Masozera. It’s one conservation NGO that has teamed up with other big partners to create an online gorilla pledge.

The pledge is aimed at tourists and is to safeguard the apes from potential risks we pose.

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“What’s new about these guidelines”, I asked her? “There are already strict protocols in place to protect the animals.”

“What makes this any different and makes you think people will actually log-on and read it? Isn’t this just a waste of money?”

Wealth tourists don’t go through the hassle of researching, planning and booking a trip like UC and I did. They get a tour operator to do it.

“Won’t this mean they then by-pass the pledge? Don’t the protocols need to be enforced by the park rangers and guides during the briefings and during the hike?”

They are hoping to give tourists basic info why it is necessary to respect and follow the rules within the parks about getting too close and trying to touch the animals.

The number of cases of respiratory illnesses among the apes is a concern, says the IGCP.

Controversially vets in this area of the Virungas do treat the mountain gorillas if they are infected with colds. Usually scientists will let nature take its course with wild but habituated animals, but I suppose because these primates are critically endangered and there is more to lose if they die out. We have also increased those risks by being here.

As with the challenges of developing countries the internet is very sloooow and so I have not been able to edit the interview I did on camera – in fact it was done on my mini iPad – so I’ll upload it when I get to London next week.

The backdrop for the filming is where the VIrunga mountains where Rwanda, DRC and Uganda meet.

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