Bristol Zoo Gardenshead vet, Sharon Redrobe, has returned from a 10-day trip to train staff at a gorilla andchimp orphanage in Mefou National Park, Cameroon.
Ms Redrobe visited MefouNational Park, run by conservation charity CWAF (the Cameroon Wildlife AidFund), where she provided veterinary guidance, support and training to staffand volunteers.
Mefou National Parkconsists of 1,044 hectares of forest containing several large enclosures, hometo around 17 young gorillas, 90 chimpanzees and 11 baboons.
During her trip, Ms Redrobe carried out routine health checks on the baboons, 10 infantWestern lowland gorillas and numerous other animals. She also carriedout primate dental procedures, trained staff in using vital medical equipmentand helped move the infant gorillas into a newly created, spacious enclosurein the forest.
Among her otherpatients was a one year old female chimp called Samboro, who is recoveringfrom meningitis but still suffers from related health problems, such asparalysis. Sharon worked with the CWAF team to take blood samples to trace thecause of the meningitis and to review Samboros diet and treatment.
Ms Redrobe, who hasworked as a vet at Bristol Zoo for 10 years, said: “Its great to have theopportunity to go out to the Cameroon and to be able to make such a bigdifference to the team out there, it was a real career highlight for me.Opportunities like this are the reason I became a vet.
“The teamspractical veterinary knowledge is good and they do a wonderful job. The tripgave me the opportunity to train them in using new medical equipment andtechniques and to help them set up diet sheets to monitor the primatesnutrition.”
Mefou National Parkis run by CWAF in conjunction with the Cameroon government. It also receivessupport from Bristol Zoo Gardens which regularly sends veterinary, education orzoo keeper staff to the project to lend their expertise and support.
CWAF works to protectapes from the illegal bushmeat and pet trades. Around 90 per cent of thechimpanzee population throughout Africa has already been lost due to illegalhunting and habitat loss, and it is feared that without major conservationeffort all the chimpanzees and other apes in Cameroon could soon be wiped out.
CWAFs work is fundedentirely by donations and fundraising events. To find out more visit theirwebsite at www.cwaf.org . To findout more about Bristol Zoo Gardens, and its work with CWAF, visit www.bristolzoo.org.uk