Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gorillas and computers

by Karen Coppock

Had the pleasure of having breakfast with Lawrence Zikusoka and his wife, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka (and their two lovely children) this morning. Lawrence and Glady are the founders of Conservation Through Public Health in Uganda.

The couple was in town to present and exhibit their work at the Wildlife Conservation Network expo and to present at UC Davis.

CTPH leverages the expertise of their two founders - Lawrence is a telecommunications specialists and Gladys a veterinarian (both are conservationists) - to offer programs in wildlife health (primarily gorillas), human health and information, education and communication. Their innovative work in disease transmission control and increasing economic opportunities for people that live in protected areas in Africa has been recognized by a long list of awards including San Diego Zoo Conservation in Action Award, World Summit Award for Digital Inclusion, Conservation Fund Award from Skal International Kampala, Whitley Fund for Nature Gold Award and an Ashoka Fellowship.

Computers and gorillas seem like an odd mix, but CTPH recognizes the value of the wildlife and public health data they are collecting and technology can facilitate its widespread dissemination. Technology can also assist with providing economic opportunities for the people that live in or near remote wildlife parks to stem urban migration and hopefully poaching. Perhaps it is not such an odd combination.

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