As with everyone else worldwide, we have also experienced some unprecedented times this month; the main global challenge being preventing the spread and impact of Covid-19.
Rwanda joined that ranks of countries who enacted swift protections and precautions as the threat was acknowledged globally. To protect the country and its precious ape population, the international borders were closed to travel, and the National Parks have been temporarily shut, protecting Rwanda’s population 13 primate species including Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees and Golden Monkeys.
At Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, we said goodbye to the last of our guests in mid-March, helping them to navigate their way home amid travel bans. With the closure of the borders and park, we’ve also closed the lodge. Our staff have gone home to spend this time with their families. While this is certainly a trying time for the world, it has also helped us remember the most important things in life.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge has sadly shut for now – photo credit Will Fortescue
With our guests and staff looked after, we wanted to give you an update on how the gorillas are being cared for at this crucial time; as we all know, humans and gorillas are about 98 percent identical on a genetic level, and we do not know yet if gorillas are susceptible to the virus. Bearing this in mind, plus the worrying fact that gorillas are indeed susceptible to other human respiratory diseases, there has of course been great concern for their safety and health.
Humans and gorillas are about 98% identical gene-wise – photo credit Dave Richards
Please know that the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park are all currently well and being monitored and cared for by the fabulous teams at Rwanda Development Board, Gorilla Doctors and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. They have adjusted their own research and care behaviour to not only prevent any possibilities of transmission to the apes, but also continuing with their normal procedures for ensuring their overall protection from other risks including poaching and loss of habitat.
Gorilla health and safety is of utmost importance – photo credit Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
Daily preventative measures being taken by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund include their trackers in Rwanda working in two-week isolation rotations, isolated from their families and communities while they are on duty. The trackers are also given daily health checks, face masks to wear and are following strict hand washing protocols. All gorilla related research has been halted for now and time with the gorillas has been significantly reduced; when they are with the gorillas, the trackers are maintaining a safe distance of 100 meters to ensure their ultimate protection.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund team beginning
their two week shift monitoring the gorillas.
Photo credit The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
At Sabyinyo, we know all too well how incredibly important their work is all year round, but during these uncertain times, financial support is more important than ever as they encounter challenges to fund their usual, everyday basic operations. If you are able to consider any kind of donation, they (and we) would be forever grateful to you. You can donate HERE.
And so we all sit tight and wait, obeying the rules of quarantining, social distancing and limited movement, in hopes that we’ll be through this global challenge sooner rather than later. After much time spent indoors, the call to reconnect with nature will be strong, and what better way to do that, than with an African safari to reconnect us all back to our most fundamental roots.
Stay safe and keep well, until we meet again! Photo credit Will Fortescue
By Chloe Flatt, Governors’ Camp Collection