BWINDI: PEOPLE AND PRIMATES
For 4,000 years, Bwindi was home to the Batwa people, often known as ‘pygmies’, but when the national park was created in 1993, they were evicted without compensation. With no prospects, they were ostracised, leading to homelessness, malnutrition and alcoholism.
In 2000, the Americans Scott and Carol Kellermann concluded that Batwa life expectancy was just 28 years, so they set up a makeshift clinic under a fig tree, treating 500 patients daily. It has become one of Uganda’s most respected hospitals, the Bwindi Communityy Hospital.p The Kellermanns also began a development programme to establish income-generating projects such as the Batwa Experience, a ‘living museum’ offering a fascinating glimpse into this people’s former forest life.
Community health also concerned Dr Gladys KalemaZikusoka, who in 2000 discovered the first confirmed case of scabies spreading from human to gorilla. A young gorilla died of the disease, which was traced to dirty rags on a scarecrow intended to deter the apes from crop-raiding. Scabies thrives on poverty and poor hygiene.yg In 2002, Gladys founded ConservationC T Through Public H Health to help e educate local c communities and im improve the health o of people, wildlife a and livestock. If thet surrounding communitiesc are in good health, g gorillas will be too.
Batwa people no longer live as nomadic huntergatherers.