While it’s still not clear if wild animals can contract COVID-19, mountain gorillas and chimpanzees are known to be susceptible to infection with human respiratory pathogens.
Once tourism is up and running again, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) will be using new guidelines on human interaction with primates. So far, Adventure Consults has learned these guidelines will likely include:
- The required distance between the humans and gorillas is likely to expand from seven meters to 10 meters, and there’s a strong likelihood that visitors will be a required to wear masks while tracking. For purposes of maintaining standards and hygiene, visitors will be encouraged to bring their own masks, but Adventure Consults will also have emergency masks available for guests that may not have their own.
- Everyone will be required to sanitize hands before heading out for gorilla tracking.
- All common areas with heavy tourist traffic shall be disinfected regularly before and during visiting hours. This includes information counters, service desks, waiting areas, park offices and toilets. Toilets, in particular, should be cleaned at least every two hours
- All rangers and clerks at entry gates will be required to wear facemasks when dealing with tourists.
Meanwhile, UWA field staff continue to visit gorillas and chimpanzees daily in the national parks. This keeps the primates used to being around people and, more importantly, familiarizes them with humans wearing masks.
You may a refresh yourself with the existing, standard gorilla tracking rules and guidelines via this link.