Global threats of poaching, logging and disease are wiping out entire species of the world's great apes. Mountain gorillas are among the top 10 endangered primates. One study in northern Congo (Brazzaville) showed 5-7 percent of chimpanzee and gorilla populations were killed each year. Because of their high risk of extinction, researchers are taking great strides to discover and combat the major threats to these animals.
The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project began in 1986 to conserve mountain gorillas at the request of the late Dr. Dian Fossey, a famed gorilla researcher and advocate. At the time, the estimated 250 remaining mountain gorillas were in severe danger of extinction.
One of the most significant efforts created to protect these primates is the "Mountain Gorilla Project." This program provides in-field veterinary care to mountain gorillas that suffer from human-caused or life-threatening diseases and illnesses, such as respiratory tract infections, skin diseases and viruses. The program's veterinarians go to the habitat of the gorillas and provide medication and medical procedures.
In 1998, Dr. Michael R. Cranfield, the Maryland Zoo's director of animal health, research and conservation, was named the gorilla project's part-time director. He continues to be Co-Director for the project, splitting his time between overseeing operations in Africa, fundraising on the road and administering the project from his base at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
In 2005, DNA specimens and other medical research data for the project outgrew its original headquarters at the Morris Animal Foundation in Colorado and were relocated to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Since the project's move, it continues to receive funding from the Morris Foundation. Today, thanks to the work of groups such as the Gorilla Project, researchers are happy to report about 780 mountain gorillas now live in Africa. About 480 gorillas live in the Virunga Volcanoes Massif, which spans Rwandaâ€™s Volcanoes National Park. Another 302 gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
For more information on their efforts, go to: http://gorilladoctors.org or on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/gorilladoctors.