Our world is facing an ever-changing challenge in regard to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The overall impact is yet to be seen, but The Fossey Fund is doing everything we can to ensure the well-being of each gorilla and person with whom we work. We want to share what we are doing to protect gorillas and the nearby communities that we serve, as well as what measures we have implemented to ensure the safety of our teams.
There are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Rwanda. While these cases are not currently in area where we operate, we are working diligently to be prepared if/when the disease spreads further. The protection of our team, the gorillas and the communities with whom we work is our top priority.
At this time, it is not known if gorillas are susceptible to COVID-19. However, we have put precautions in place to minimize the risk of any possible disease transmission while still providing the daily protection and monitoring which is essential for their conservation. This includes:
- We are limiting our time with the gorillas to what is necessary to do basic monitoring for health and injuries; after each individual gorilla in a family is seen and evaluated, our teams will move 100 meters away to maintain a protection presence. Our normal research activities have been suspended to decrease the time spent in proximity to the gorillas.
- Prior to going into the field, all field staff are participating in daily health checks (including temperature checks). Any staff exhibiting symptoms or with a fever are not permitted in the field and will be directed to self-quarantine/seek medical assistance.
- Staff are wearing masks while in the field.
- We have implemented mandatory handwashing and hand sanitizing procedures at all of our field camps and office.
- All staff who have the ability to work from home have been moved to a remote schedule.
- Posters explaining the symptoms of and prevention measures for COVID have been posted in our work areas to educate staff and community.
- We have temporarily suspended our community engagement activities to reduce the risk of exposure.
- Our public exhibit in Rwanda has been temporarily closed.
We are in daily conversations with relevant government authorities and other conservation organizations and will continue to monitor the situation on the ground and evaluate and adjust our efforts as the situation evolves.
Now, more than ever, it is important for us to try and remain focused on our daily operations while also being tuned into the sensitivity and needs of this incredibly challenging time. Our work to conserve and protect the gorillas of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and support the surrounding people and communities, remains our first priority. Thank you for your ongoing support, care and concern.
President & CEO/Chief Scientific Officer