Gorilla Doctors: saving endangered mountain gorillas in Africa
1. When zoologist Dian Fossey was murdered in 1985 there were just 250 mountain gorillas left in Africa’s Virunga mountains. But thanks in part to the Gorilla Doctors she inspired.
2. The multi-national group operates in the heart of the jungle, treating maimed and critically ill gorillas.
3. The Gorilla Doctors were formed in 1986 as the Virunga Veterinary Centre at the request of Dr Fossey – whose story inspired the Oscar.
4. The doctors swoop in to rescue the gentle giants when they are trapped in poachers’ snares or exposed to deadly human viruses.
5. In total they have carried out more than 150 medical interventions on wild gorillas and adopted more than 20 orphans.
6. The Gorilla Doctors’ outstanding work continues to see mountain gorilla populations rise, while other great apes, such as orangutans.
7. The last four years have seen the vets and scientists employ increasingly advanced techniques, which they hope will help.
8. They use the ‘one health’ approach to conserving the species. This is a belief that the health of one species is inextricably linked.
9. The region is also a magnet for thousands of eco-tourists – some of whom get ‘too close’ to the gorillas.
10. The region the Gorilla Doctors operate in is one of the most turbulent in the world and has been marred by genocide and war.