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Who are we

The Wildlife Conservation Network’s goal is a world where gorillas and other wildlife are healthy and their habitats are secure, and where they co-exist with healthy communities. This project improves the health and hygiene of people living in proximity to gorillas to reduce the likelihood of spread of zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19, common flu, tuberculosis, scabies, intestinal worms and dysentery.


Issue: Sustainable Communities

Project Background

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to 43% of the remaining 1,063 endangered mountain gorillas and is one of two remaining strongholds for the species. Surrounded by some of the poorest communities in Uganda, with very limited access to health and social services, the park and its wildlife are under serious threat from human activity.

The project is aimed at promoting good hygiene and sanitation practices: clean pit latrines, hand-washing facilities, drinking boiled water, and encouraging community members to call the Gorilla Guardians to herd back gorillas when they forage in community land. The project will promote positive attitudes towards conservation, share information on sustainable livelihood options, and dispel myths and misconceptions, e.g., around eating bush meat considered to be medicinal. By improving people’s health and knowledge, dependence on natural resources to meet basic needs will decrease, further reducing threats to gorillas resulting from people entering the forest.

Conservation Through Public Health engages community volunteers under the mandate of the Ministry of Health and trains them to become Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs) who offer integrated health and conservation communication and health service provision to households and community members. These VHCTs  help to increase access to key health services and empower community members to live healthier lives; in so doing, they help to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission between people and wildlife – including, for example, COVID-19. 

Project Objectives

The overall objective of the project is to reduce threats to the survival of the endangered mountain gorillas through: 

1.           Training 270 Village Health and Conservation Teams in our ‘model household’ approach which improves household health and wellbeing and reduces threats to mountain gorillas.

2.           Sensitizing community leaders in the parishes in our community health approach to ensure wide buy-in and support.

3.           Equipping 270 VHCTs with information education and communication materials, such as posters and brochures to support behaviour change communication and information dissemination amongst households.

4.           Providing mentoring and supporting supervision for VHCTs.

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