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April 15, 2024

African Impact

Two New African Field Conservation Programs
Aim to Protect Gorillas + Grey Crowned Cranes

We’re honored to provide world-class animal care to Critically Endangered western lowland gorillas. But more than 8,500 miles away, in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, their wild counterparts face a variety of devastating threats. This year, Denver Zoo is expanding our global wildlife conservation efforts with two new programs in Africa—one, to help protect Endangered mountain gorillas, and another to preserve wild populations of Endangered grey-crowned cranes.

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CONSERVATION THROUGH PUBLIC HEALTH

Habitat loss tops an ever-growing list of threats as the region’s growing human population continues to encroach on the gorillas' forest homes. Through our new partnership with Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), an organization focused on the interdependence of wildlife and human health in and around Bwindi's protected areas, Denver Zoo will be working towards a sustainable solution. 

“Mountain gorillas and their wild habitats are among the species and places that Denver Zoo is focusing on that have the highest conservation need,” says Dr. Lynn Von Hagen, our Regional Director of Field Conservation—Africa. Our partnership with CTPH reflects our approach to wildlife conservation where we aim to support community-centered organizations and align our global conservation work with efforts on our campus in Denver.”

CTPH regularly monitors the health of the Bwindi gorilla groups through fecal samples, engages with local villagers on zoonotic disease prevention, trains rangers and porters on best practices for gorilla engagement with tourists, and supports livelihood projects for the local community. By funding a veterinary technician’s salary for one year, Denver Zoo will ease the workload of the organization's current team as they continue to monitor the health of mountain gorilla groups in the region. The Zoo is also looking for future opportunities to support CTPH in multiple ways as they continue their important work with the hopes of expansion to other areas where gorillas are found.
 

“We are extremely thrilled and honored to be a partner of Denver Zoo and are looking forward to working closely with the Zoo to strengthen our work to protect the gorillas and meaningfully engage the Bwindi local communities in conservation,” said Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, Founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health.  

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RWANDA WILDLIFE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION

The Zoo is also partnering with Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA) to help protect Endangered grey crowned cranes, which face threats from human-wildlife conflict and the illegal wildlife trade. RWCA continues to expand its crane conservation program through a trans-boundary partnership with Nature Uganda, Nature Tanzania and the International Crane Foundation that employs local people as “Community Conservation Champions” to survey and monitor crane populations and educate fellow community members. The Zoo’s investment in RWCA will support these champions by providing field supplies for one year, and contribute to the program’s efforts to increase the species’ numbers across their ranges in three East African countries.  

“Support from Denver Zoo is helping us to strengthen our cross-border collaboration with Uganda and Tanzania to ensure that we can have a regional response to the protection of these amazing birds,” said Dr. Olivier Nsengimana, Founder and Executive Director of Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association. “We recruit and train Community Conservation Champions who live nearby crane habitats and work hard to monitor and protect the species, and raise awareness among local communities to care for the wetland habitats. We are extremely grateful for this support and the great impact it will make!”  

GLOBAL CONSERVATION: AN INSIDE JOB

Like the new Asian field conservation programs we recently announced, both of our African programs are rooted in capacity building—using our knowledge and resources to support the skills, abilities, processes and infrastructures of the organizations already doing incredible work in their respective fields. Stay tuned for further announcements in the coming weeks about our efforts in Latin America and beyond! 

Wondering how you can help? All visitsmemberships and donations support our wildlife conservation efforts in Colorado + worldwide. For updates on our conservation work, be sure to follow us on FacebookInstagramX and LinkedIn. 

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