Master's programme in Wildlife Epidemiology and Disease Control, The University of Castilla- La Mancha (UCLM), Ciudad Real, Spain (September 2022-)
Internship, Lwiro Primates Rehabilitation Center (May 2021 – June 2022)
Dr. Junny Bweya was born in 1992 in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a part of the country that has seen war since 1995. The first daughter in the family of four children, she and her three siblings moved with her parents from their village of Katwa, approximately 20 kilometers from the Ugandan border, to live with other families in the relative safety of the city of Butembo. The family raised small cattle, companion animals, and a few farmyard animals while she attended high school.
Junny was a student in the faculty of veterinary medicine at L’Université
Catholique du Graben (UCG- Butembo) for 6 years, and graduated as a
veterinarian in 2020. Throughout her training and in the months following her graduation, Dr. Bweya used her skills and knowledge to look after animals on farms in her village, including those of her family. She was unable to find employment as a salaried veterinarian—sadly, not an uncommon situation in rural DRC where very few government resources are available to support newly graduated veterinarians in their search for jobs.
In the spring of 2021, Dr. Bweya heard of and applied for a ConserVet scholarship to do a 12-month wildlife medicine and conservation internship with Dr. Luis Flores and his colleagues at the Lwiro Primates Rehabilitation Centre. An outstanding applicant, Junny excelled in the programme, establishing herself as a competent and compassionate wildlife veterinarian, ultra-dedicated to her animal patients and very keen to learn.
Junny says that her first thoughts 18-months later, having been selected for the ConserVet Masters scholarship to do graduate degree in Spain, were: “I was so happy and saw my dream being realized—an opportunity to learn a lot more about nature conservation, wildlife medicine, epidemiology and the management of diseases that threaten endangered large primates in my area, and humans.” Dr. Bweya’s research will focus on the prevalence of antibiotic resistance to E. Coli bacteria in eastern lowland (Grauer’s) gorillas and human caretakers in a gorillla rehabilitation and conservation education center (GRACE) in DRC.
When she has completed her Masters degree, Junny intends to return to DRC, bringing her new knowledge and her “share of fresh ideas” to “do this great work of conservation in my country first, then in the whole world.” She dreams of creating a project to increase awareness of the importance of great ape conservation within the human population of the region “because I understand that many are not informed about the importance of wildlife and many are used to the destruction of our wildlife for the benefit of foreigners.”
Junny describes the ConserVet scholarship as “allowing me to continue with my studies at the Masters level, something that was difficult for me due to the financial and material conditions of my family. The scholarship will allow me to be among those who will participate in the conservation of wildlife in Africa and to share with my colleagues.”
Docs4GreatApes is committed to improving the health of great ape populations, the communities that surround them, and the ecosystem we share, through education.