C6 – COVID-19 and the Mountain Gorilla

From The Good Tourism Blog:

“Mountain gorillas are highly susceptible to human-borne disease. Even a common cold, which is little more than a temporary inconvenience for humans, could prove fatal to them.”

The current tourism standards emphasize that humans must maintain a seven-meter (or greater) distance from gorillas at all times, which in the absence of wind is the minimum safe distance to avoid a sneezed droplet carrying infectious particles.

The International Gorilla Conservation Programme is using the COVID-19 moment to tighten the “Certified Gorilla Friendly” tourism standards it wants to see implemented in Rwanda, Uganda and the DR Congo.

One of the most pressing issues discussed at the IGCP workshop was the need to ensure that a minimum distance is maintained between visitors and gorillas and—given that the apes are oblivious to these rules of engagement—the importance of taking extra precautions to legislate for those moments when gorillas make it impossible to observe the guidelines.
Foremost among these additional measures is the use of a mask or other form of protective barrier to cover the nose and mouth throughout the one-hour duration of a gorilla encounter.

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