The PGFV Rehabilitation Centre started in 2006 and consists of a quarantine facility at Ompando and an entire Island where gorillas forage freely. With support from Four Paws, our goal is to maintain their reintroduction potential.
The five phases of our gorilla rehabilitation program are:
Phase I: Quarantine
Orphaned gorillas transferred to the PGFV by wildlife authorities are isolated at least 3 months for health screening. This initial step is needed to ensure that diseases are not transmitted between humans and gorillas, or between a sick gorilla and healthy ones. The quarantine period also allows an orphan to adjust to new surroundings and their surrogate mothers (e.g. human caretakers).
Phase II: Forest rehabilitation (individual)
Once important diseases have been ruled out, orphans spend a few weeks to months (depending on their age) getting used to life in the forest. This step consists of full days in the forest whilst sleeping in a safe quarters at night. Branches are gathered to introduce each orphan to the concept of nest-building which is what wild gorillas do.
Phase III: Social integration
After a few weeks to months of forest rehabilitation, each young gorilla starts his or her social integration with other gorilla orphans. Because individual gorillas cannot be reintroduced into the wild alone, social ties and group stability are crucial for promoting the group’s reintroduction potential. Only a stable group can be reintroduced successfully.
Phase IV: Forest rehabilitation (group)
The PGFV gorillas are currently one step closer to freedom on Oriquet Island, away from direct interactions with humans. A small team of caretakers monitor the gorillas’ progress on a daily basis. These gorillas forage freely within the forest every day to learn, practice and acquire appropriate gorilla behavior and survival skills.
The PGFV is currently at Step IV of the rehabilitation process. Nine gorillas are living on Oriquet Island and only a small team of local caretakers monitors their health and behavior on a daily basis.
Phase V: Reintroduction
Our hope is to one day reintroduce this group of young gorillas into the wild. Reintroduction is a very difficult endeavor and requires a multistep and multi-disciplinary approach. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has published specific reintroduction guidelines for great apes.