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News from Tshiaberimu after deaths
08 August 2008

In February and May this year, two rare female gorillas living in the isolated forest on Mount Tshiaberimu, DR Congo, died after contracting the Shigella virus. The loss of two breeding females left the fragile Tshiaberimu population with just 19 gorillas, and the Gorilla Organization was gravely concerned that if any more gorillas died the population would not survive.

Since the deaths, the Mount Tshiaberimu Conservation Project team, a collaborative effort between the Gorilla Organization and the ICCN, has worked extremely hard to ensure the health of the remaining gorillas and minimize the risk of any further outbreaks of disease.

Thankfully the team’s dedication is paying off. In addition to the daily health monitoring being carried out by the trackers, regular veterinary visits have taken place - all of which have confirmed that the remaining population of gorillas are healthy and well. Staff have received specialist health monitoring training to help them identify even the slightest signs that a gorilla may be unwell, and computer software is being used to record the data collected.

It remains a priority to uncover how the Shigella virus infected the gorillas in the first place in order to prevent reinfection in the future. There is a possibility that the source of infection came from the surrounding local population, who have inadequate health care and ill equipped health centres. The gorilla habitat at Mount Tshiaberimu is an isolated island of forest, circled by farmland and villages - occasionally the gorillas wander outside of the forest putting them in contact with the local population and livestock, and at risk from contracting disease.

The Gorilla Organization continues to reduce the prevalence of infection in the local communities by assisting local health and veterinary centres with appropriate equipment and resources, and promoting education campaigns. Recently the organisation helped a community build a new health centre and antibiotics have been sourced so that they are immediately available should one of the gorillas become ill in the future.

Click here to find out more about the Mount Tshiaberimu Conservation Project and please make a donation.

for further information or photographs contact:

David Hewitt, Communications Manager
The Gorilla Organization, 110 Gloucester Avenue, London, Nw1 8HX
Tel: 020 7916 4974
Mobile: 07801 971123