Are Rwanda’s Mountain Gorillas safe from Ebola?

About six days ago, I shared with y’all some horrific news that 5,000 or so gorillas have lost their lives to Ebola.

For me it has been a hard number to grasp. But, some bittersweet news is coming out of Rwanda about how mountain gorillas are too isolated to contract the disease… for now. The news article that reported this, “Rwanda: ‘Gorillas Safe From Ebola‘,” writes,

“Mountain gorillas in Virunga Park do not face a threat from Ebola, a senior official with Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), has said. Fidel Ruzigandekwe, the Executive Director of Rwanda Wildlife Authority, a department under ORTPN, said on Monday that the primates are not endangered as those in the Congo basin region…

…The Congo basin which covers DRC, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic is located about 2000 kilometres from the Virunga Mist, home to hundreds of the Mountain gorillas.

Ruzigandekwe said there are both regional and international efforts to prevent the deadly disease from spreading to the apes.

He said that one of the existing efforts was that of the Mountain Gorilla Health Contingence Plan (MGHCP), which is shared by the three countries, which checks for possible disease outbreaks in the Virunga Mist.”

This is good news, for now, but we cannot rely on the physical barrier, being the Virunga mountains, as the sole deterent of this highly communicable and virulent disease. Knowing that over 5,000 gorillas lives have been lost, a much more smaller, denser, fragile and immunologically isolated population of Mountain gorillas is more at risk than the populations of Western lowland gorillas that are facing this horrible disease.

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