Chewed Plants Help Detect Viruses in Wild Mountain Gorillas and Monkeys

A family of mountain gorillas in Rwanda
A family of mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Credit: Tierra Smiley Evans/UC Davis

Chewed bark, leaves and fruit discarded by mountain gorillas provide a simple way to test the endangered apes for viruses without disturbing them, according to scientists from the University of California, Davis, studying mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in East-Central Africa.

The method is described in a study published recently in the American Journal of Primatology. The study is led by UC Davis’ One Health Institute and Gorilla Doctors, a program led by the nonprofit Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project and UC Davis.  

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