Conservation Gorillas Gabon. A One Health Project

Today's actions are the hopes of the future

Project description

Infectious diseases (Ebola, coronavirus, human respiratory viruses, etc.) are among the three main threats to great apes, along with habitat loss and poaching. Due to the great pressure from logging and oil companies surrounding this World Heritage site, it is imperative to create a sustainable economy. Gorilla habitat contributes to conservation and the economy of the national parks through tourism. However, it is a strategy with high risk of spreading pathogens. 

What are the objectives?

The project aims to study diseases in Moukalaba Doudou National Park, Gabon, and establish gorilla health protocols to prevent their spread in both directions with humans. This is a process that involves job creation, professional training of local experts and the development of the required infrastructure. 

Specific Objectives
  • To increase the knowledge and experience of local veterinarians and wildlife researchers through research on potentially zoonotic pathogens in gorilla populations and humans
  • Reduce the risk of poaching in the area by creating salaries based on animal protection
  • Reduce the risk of logging in this forest by creating an economy based on the protection of the ecosystem and not its destruction
  • Create reliable data on the actual number of protected populations in the area and thus prevent logging in the area.
  • Pathogen sampling: The non-invasive sample will be collected from both humans and gorillas. Efforts in 2020-2021 will focus on parasite and coronavirus studies.
  • Reduce the risk of spreading pathogens between gorillas and humans and vice versa.
  • Securing the salary of the ten current and future gorilla trackers over the next five years
  • Job creation, increased number of trackers, and staff at the research center, including women.
  • Create the basic infrastructure necessary for local wildlife veterinarians to protect the health of wildlife populations under their mandate.

What is the meaning of the project?

Along with habitat loss and poaching, infectious diseases are considered one of the main threats to most great apes. The spread of pathogens due to ecosystem disruption and pandemics is a real threat to gorillas [3, 4, 5]. The increase of Emerging Infectious Diseases are not only a threat to non-human primates, but also to humans, here is the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous articles have shown that the risk of EID increases significantly following ecosystem disruption and biodiversity loss [6,7,8,9]. Our research project is of utmost importance to monitor the health of human-abused gorillas and prevent the spread of disease in this protected area. This will increase scientific knowledge and ecotourism in the area and create a sustainable income stream in this natural paradise.

This project will directly contribute to improving the livelihoods of the local community in the long and short term. By empowering local veterinarians and scientists, we are ensuring the protection of these and many more protected areas in Gabon.

Budget 20 000 + 4×4 car

This budget corresponds only to the year 2020-2021. This first year is 50% more expensive for the initial investment in infrastructure and material.

This project is the first part of a larger program that will integrate animal and human sampling and training and capacity building for local veterinarians and wildlife researchers in Gabon. This project is also part of a short- and long-term sustainable initiative that supports the 200-person community in the village of Doussala through ecotourism and science.

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For this first section, we will explore the parasites of 22 inhabited gorillas in the MDNP. Our budget covers sample collection, testing, wildlife veterinary capacity building and community support in a five-year project. As funds become available, they will be allocated to begin with an immediate effect on monitoring gorilla health and population; preventing not only the spread of disease but also attempts to poach the area.

Additional and essential: Purchase or Donation of 4×4 car. Preferable due to its robustness and ease of repair in Gabon: Toyota Land Cruiser.

Destination of the budget
Wild Spirit Fund Masais Budget 2020-2021

What is the context of this project?

The Moukalaba-Doudou National Park is 450,000 hectares of nature, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to the highest density of gorillas and chimpanzees in Gabon [1]. Along with elephants, hundreds of unique species occupy this Park, including humans. The village of Doussala is just 500 metres from the research station. Thanks to recent research projects in the Park [2In addition to the gorilla habitat and the resulting ecotourism, this community has found gorilla monitoring and ecosystem conservation to be a sustainable way of life. The Park is surrounded by logging and oil companies, and along with poaching and the spread of disease are the daily threat to the ecosystem of this Park and many others in Africa.

 

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We have the opportunity to provide an alternative and sustainable form of income around the conservation of wildlife and not on the basis of its destruction.

Our work is in collaboration with IRET. This government institution has ethical and well trained experts. However, they cannot do their job due to the lack of basic infrastructure: a vehicle, transportation costs and equipment for sample collection and processing.

Timing

As soon as the funds are received, the project will start with immediate effect *. Our team will travel from Libreville to the research station at MDNP. The first few days will be devoted to locating the gorillas. Five days a week for three months, samples will be collected. Data analysis and protocol writing will be done at the Libreville headquarters. Once the results and conclusions are established, feedback will be given to the relevant community and authority.

*Considering the health and safety protocols of Covid-19

October

Launch of the project 

November

Trip to Moukalaba National Park - Doudou. Sanitary check of the equipment

Start tracing gorillas and taking samples

December

First infrastructure arrangements for research station 

January

Three months sample collection 

April

Data analysis 

Communication with relevant authorities

May

Implementation of health safety protocols

Tourist drive

June

Mini-Monitoring Continues 

Meet the team

Dr. Quesada. Fabiola

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM, MD) Wild Spirit Fund - CEO

Dr Makouloutou. Patrice

Doctor (PhD) of Veterinary Sciences. Research Institute in Tropical Ecology (IRET/ CENAREST)

Would you like to support us and collaborate through the institution where you work?

Contact us info@wildspiritfund.org

Endorsed by

Dr A Alonso Aguirre
George Mason University, Department Chair and Professor

I wholeheartedly endorse Fabiola's project! Highly qualified and passionate, she has the initiative and stamina to study pathogens spilling over from humans to gorillas. More than ever we need to support scientists like her committed to conservation and working with local communities. As a founder of Wild Spirit, she totally understands the current pressure wild populations face during these challenging times. Fabiola and her team will deliver the first specific health and disease protocols for gorillas in the region

Dr Carlos Iglesias Pastrana
Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Cordoba, Spain

I feel really excited about enhancing this promising project. Fabiola is one of the most powerful personalities worldwide that passionately contributes to the protection and conservation of nature for sure. The present pioneer project she leads will contribute to an empirical identification of infectious hazards for gorillas in Gabon and which could be potentially transmitted to humans. We all are responsible to give a response to this call of action and help Fabiola achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

Field Notes

Elephants and humans sharing the limited water available

Elephants and humans sharing the limited water available

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GEOPHYSICAL AND HYDROGEOLOGICAL SURVEY REPORT

GEOPHYSICAL AND HYDROGEOLOGICAL SURVEY REPORT

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