KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — As the coronavirus infects more people around the world, conservationists are warning of the risk to another vulnerable species: Africa’s endangered mountain gorilla.
Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to about a third of the world’s mountain gorillas, is barring visitors until June 1, citing “advice from scientific experts indicating that primates, including mountain gorillas, are likely susceptible to complications arising from the COVID-19 virus.”
Neighboring Rwanda also is temporarily shutting down tourism and research activities in three national parks that are home to primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees.
Mountain gorillas are prone to some respiratory illnesses that afflict humans. A common cold can kill a gorilla, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, one reason why tourists tracking gorillas are not normally permitted to get too close.