BWINDI: PEO­PLE AND PRI­MATES

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Gorillas -

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.

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