Issue 17: Sharing the Forest: Protecting Gorillas and Helping Families in Uganda

By
Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka and Lynne Gaffikin

On the outskirts of remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda, endangered mountain gorillas forage in local gardens that run along the border of the park. Rapid population growth has pushed people to settle near the gorillas' habitat – sometimes leading to conflict. Our innovative community development program, Conservation Through Public Health, seeks to conserve these magnificent animals, and at the same time, improve the quality of life for Ugandans living near Bwindi. Trained community volunteers protect livelihoods dependent on ecotourism by monitoring diseases like tuberculosis that can pass from humans to gorillas, potentially threatening the rare species' survival. Other volunteers teach couples how to use modern family planning methods that make it easier for them to provide for their children – and reduce the pressure on the forest and its inhabitants.

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