Veterinarians Make House Calls to Save Gorillas

Gorillas only exist in the wild in Africa. Mountain gorillas, one of four subspecies, live in central Africa at high altitudes in the national parks encompassing Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There are only about 900 mountain gorillas left in the wild.

A few decades ago, mountain gorillas were on the verge of extinction. Today, thanks to a group of dedicated veterinarians and scientists known as Gorilla Doctors, mountain gorillas are the only population of great apes growing in numbers, according to Mike Cranfield, co-director of Gorilla Doctors, an Aid for Africa member.

“They’re increasing at 4 percent a year, which is about the maximum that they could. That’s as fast as the human population is growing on the face of the earth. And veterinarians are credited with 50 percent of that growth or 2 percent a year,” he said.

Gorilla Doctors’ wildlife veterinarians, who are almost all African, form teams to provide emergency care to gravely injured and ill gorillas in the world, according to Kristen Gilardi, co-director of the organization. Staff also care for infant gorillas rescued from poachers.

Veterinarians trek into the wild to monitor and treat gorillas that are human-habituated—family groups that have grown accustomed to the presence of humans. They travel hundreds of miles every year to monitor and care for more than 500 habituated mountain gorillas.

The national parks where gorillas live are surrounded by some of the most densely populated areas in Africa. Human activity near and inside the parks, including poaching, habitat loss and disease, threaten the survival of gorillas.

Because gorillas share 98.5 percent of their genes with humans, scientists monitoring gorillas believe that the greatest health threat for gorillas may come from human-borne infectious diseases, particularly respiratory infections.

To protect gorillas from diseases carried by humans, Gorilla Doctors provides preventive health care to national park workers and their families. In 2015, some 2,200 people living and working in and near the parks received such care.

Veterinarians with Gorilla Doctors also monitor the health of eastern lowland or Grauer’s gorillas in DRC, where scientists believe their numbers remaining in the wild has dropped from tens of thousands in the mid-1990s to fewer than ten thousand today.

Gorilla Doctors is on a mission to save the species, one gorilla at a time.

Gorilla Doctors is a partnership between the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project and the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center.

Learn more about Gorilla Doctors here. See them in action on CBS 60 Minutes.

Aid for Africa is an alliance of 80 U.S.-based nonprofits and their African partners who help children, families, and communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Aid for Africa’s grassroots programs focus on health, education, economic development, arts & culture, conservation, and wildlife protection in Africa.


Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer Habout a year ago

Finally, some good news for wildlife. Thanks for all your work and thanks for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Cabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

sandy Gardner
sandy Gardnerabout a year ago

thank You for helping the gorillas!

Hometuition I.
Hometuition Iabout a year ago

What are the best tips to create effective teaching methods in home tuition ipoh?

william Miller
william Millerabout a year ago


Robert N.
Rob Chloe Sam Nabout a year ago

Those vets are amazing, Thanks for sharing.

Maureen King
Maureen Kingabout a year ago

Francis Bell. Totally agree with you.
I love monkeys,apes, gorillas , orangutans. Find them all absolutely fascinating.
Thank you for the article and comments.

Jen S.
Jen Sabout a year ago

I'm in favor of anything that preserves endangered apes and this program is extraordinarily successful.

Janet B.
Janet Babout a year ago