CTPH’s Research Mission
CTPH’s research is done alongside integrated conservation, health and community development programs with the intention to improve wildlife and health management and inform policy makers.
The following questions address CTPH research priorities:
• Are integrated approaches (Ecohealth, One Health, PHE, ICD) instrumental in addressing public health and conservation concerns in fragile ecosystems?
• How effective is health as an Integrated Conservation and Development (ICD) intervention in bringing about conservation and development outcomes?
• What diseases are shared at the human/wildlife/livestock interface and how can they be prevented and controlled?
• What can be done to maintain healthy ecosystems and viable wildlife populations?
• How can effective ecotourism be implemented that minimizes risks to great apes and the environment and maximizes community benefits?
• How effective are livestock and other enterprises in reducing hunting and bush meat consumption?
• How can microfinance and other business models be used to sustain Ecohealth initiatives at the community level?
• What Ecohealth interventions can contribute to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation?
• How can we translate the research to policy?
Long Term Research
What diseases are shared at the human/wildlife/livestock interface and how can they be prevented and controlled?
CTPH established an early warning system for disease outbreaks through wildlife and livestock sample collection and analysis. In Bwindi Impenetrable National Park CTPH has trained rangers, trackers, field assistants, and HUGO (Human and Gorilla Conflict Resolution Team) community volunteers in gorilla health monitoring through recognizing clinical signs in gorillas and collecting fecal samples from night nests and fresh trails. Samples are analyzed at the Gorilla Research Clinic, which also serves as a veterinary clinic for other animals in the area. In 2015, the Gorilla Research Clinic was upgraded into a permanent Gorilla Health and Community Conservation Centre, with support from Tusk Trust.
Monthly mountain gorilla fecal samples are collected by park trackers and rangers and community volunteers from the Human and Gorilla Conflict Resolution (HUGO) team when gorillas forage in community land. The samples are analyzed for pathogens (parasites, bacteria and other disease causing organisms) at the Gorilla Health and Community Conservation Centre, where results are shared with Uganda Wildlife Authority, Bwindi Community Hospital, Local government health and veterinary partners and partner NGOs from Kanungu and Kisoro Districts.
In Queen Elizabeth National Park, CTPH partners with Uganda Wildlife Authority, Kasese and Rubirizi District Local Government Veterinary Offices and local communities to monitor the health of wildlife and improve the health of the livestock through tests, treatments and vaccinations. CTPH trains park rangers and research assistants to monitor the health of wildlife through recognizing symptoms of sick animals and safely taking samples from animals found dead in the park during patrols. CTPH encouraged the pastoralists to form a network of Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) who are trained to improve the health and husbandry of livestock in the community as well as promote an understanding of disease issues between wildlife, livestock and people. They are model change agents improving conservation attitudes and public health practices in their community and they are our local community volunteers. In addition to their educational responsibilities, these community volunteers work with CTPH and park staff to test wildlife in the park for diseases that can spread between wildlife, livestock and humans. They also play a vital role in improving community health as they promote community health and hygiene, treat livestock and report sick wildlife in their villages to UWA, creating an early warning system for disease outbreaks between wildlife, livestock and people.
How effective is health as an Integrated Conservation and Development (ICD) intervention in bringing about conservation and development outcomes?
Through three year funding from the UK based Darwin Initiative CTPH has partnered with Oxford University, International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED), UWA and Jane Goodall Institute to evaluate how health investments we have made at Bwindi over the past ten years have contributed to conservation and sustainable development outcomes. Lessons from this study will be shared to measure the value of health as an integrated conservation and development (ICD) intervention and build the evidence base for integrated Population, Health and Environment (PHE) and One Health approaches. Recommendations from the research will be put used to improve the existing Bwindi model and effectively scale the Bwindi VHCT and VSLA model to Budongo Forest Reserve home to the critically endangered chimpanzees where JGI will take the lead working closely with Budongo Conservation Field Station (BCFS) will take the lead; and to Mt Elgon National Park frequently affected by landslides and other extreme environmental conditions, where UWA will take the lead working closely with District Natural Resource Officers.