Jacada Travel are leading an industry-wide campaign to enforce the wearing of surgical face masks for people visiting the critically endangered mountain gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda. Gorillas are highly susceptible to human diseases, sharing 98.4% of our DNA. With no immunity to viruses such as the common cold, gorillas are very much at risk when in proximity to people.

Dr. Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, founder of Conservation Through Public Health, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation focusing on mountain gorilla and human interaction around Uganda's national parks, notes that “wearing masks when visiting the gorillas ensures the best protection from our human diseases.” As Jillian Miller, executive director of the Gorilla Organization, states, “a simple human sneeze can travel seven metres, and gorillas have no immunity to the bugs we routinely pick up on the plane over.”

For this reason, places like Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo have mask-wearing as a requirement for anyone aiming to visit the gorillas.

This is not the case in Uganda and Rwanda, largely because the government and local companies are nervous about seeming alarmist or scaring away tourists.

Jacada Travel's aim is to encourage mask-wearing by leading by example. As of January 2017, we are sending information about wearing masks to our clients heading to Uganda or Rwanda and providing surgical masks for them to wear.

Examples of those who have stated their intent to join us in introducing mask-wearing as a company policy and supporters of the campaign include Tusk, Conservation Through Public Health, the Gorilla Organization, cazenove+loyd, Natural World Safaris, Pulse Africa and World Fusion Tours.