Best Practices

Health Monitoring and Disease Prevention in Great Ape Populations

Citation: Gilardi, K.V., Gillespie, T.R., Leendertz, F.H., Macfie, E.J., Travis, D.A., Whittier, C.A. & Williamson, E.A. (2015). Best Practice Guidelines for Health Monitoring and Disease Control in Great Ape Populations. IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.

These guidelines provide governments, policy makers, conservation practitioners, researchers, great ape tourism professionals and funding agencies with recommendations of best practices for great ape health monitoring and disease prevention. It is critical that tourism and research projects involving close proximity between great apes and people assess the risks entailed, and establish and implement disease prevention and control measures. Disease prevention should be regarded as a top priority, recognising that it is easier and more economical to prevent the introduction of an infectious agent into a population, than to attempt to treat, control or eradicate a health problem once introduced. The guidelines summarise our current understanding of great ape health issues.

You can download the PDFs here:

Best Practice Guidelines for Health Monitoring and Disease Control in Great Ape Populations PDF 7.5 MB

Lignes directrices pour de meilleures pratiques en matière de suivi de la santé et de contrôle des maladies des populations de grands singes PDF 6.5 MB

Panduan Pengawasan Kesehatan dan Pengendalian Penyakit pada Populasi Kera Besar PDF 6.2 MB

Some other useful documents (that may not be easy to find elsewhere) are posted here:

Homsy, J. (1999). Ape Tourism and Human Diseases: How close should we get? International Gorilla Conservation Programme, Nairobi.

Homsy, J. (1999). Tourisme, Grands Singes et Maladies Humaines: Où est la Limite? Programme International pour la Conservation des Gorilles, Nairobi.

The following resources form part of a Primate Healthcare Manual produced for the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance:

Common Parasitic Diseases – Diagnosis and Control (Bailey & Unwin 2009)

Diagnostic Sampling Procedures (Unwin et al. 2009)

Necropsy Procedures (Boardman & Unwin 2009)

Preventative Health Programme Overview (Unwin & Sanderson 2009)

The complete manual can be downloaded via this link:


The Primate Specialist Group gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Arcus Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the production and publication of these guidelines.