Most people have heard of the movie Gorillas in the Mist based on the efforts of famed primatologist Dian Fossey to save the massive primates in the wilds of Africa.
Due to her unfailing dedication to the creatures and those of preservation groups, mountain gorillas are now receiving veterinary care to help ensure their survival. One particular organization, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, came about as a result of Fossey's tireless work.
Currently, there is estimated to be some 900 mountain gorillas left in Africa. Chris Whittier, V97, who is said to have been in on the treatment and care of gorillas in six national parks in Africa, has been a part of the project. Whittier is the director of the master’s program in conservation medicine at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, which is associated with Tufts University. The object is to protect the species.
Those involved in the conservation efforts take part in the treatment of the gorillas’ health issues along with warding off poachers — which is a huge problem — and conducting behavioral research. In addition to those tasks, they are continually working with locals to try and safeguard the amazing creatures and their dwindling habitats.
Making a Difference
Whittier has stated, “Because of the history of all those partners, you can actually distinguish the gorillas in that overall population that haven’t had veterinary care and quantify how much a difference veterinary care has made." His involvement with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) was first as a Ph.D. student in population medicine at North Carolina State and then as a staff veterinarian from 2001 to 2006.
The above referenced program is now known as Gorilla Doctors, which is a partnership between the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project and the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. With more and more groups taking part in maintaining and advancing medical care and protection efforts, these mountain gorillas now have a far better shot at survival.
Source: Tufts University