The endangered African Great Ape: Pesticide residues in soil and plants consumed by Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, East Africa

Chemonges Amusa, Jessica Rothman, Silver Odongo, Henry Matovu, Patrick Ssebugere, Deborah Baranga, Mika Sillanpää

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park situated southwest of Uganda is a biodiversity hotspot that is home to about half of the world's endangered mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei). Given its ecological significance and mounting pressures from agricultural activities such as tea growing, continuous monitoring of the levels of chemical toxins like pesticides in the park and surrounding areas is needed for effective conservation strategies. Furthermore, persistent organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) like DDT were used in agricultural gardens and indoor spraying in Kanungu district between the 1950s and 80s. The focus of this study was to explore the possible exposure of mountain gorillas to OCPs and cypermethrin used by the farmers in the areas near the park. Data from our interviews revealed that glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide by the farmers in areas surrounding the park, followed by cypermethrin, and mancozeb. Samples of leaves from plants consumed by mountain gorillas along the forest edges of the park and surficial soils (15–20 cm depths) were collected from three sites (Ruhija, Nkuringo and Buhoma) and analysed for the presence of cypermethrin and OCPs residues. Concentrations of total (∑) DDTs and ∑endosulfans were up to 0.34 and 9.89 mg/kg dry weight (d.w), respectively in soil samples. Concentrations of ∑DDTs and ∑endosulfans in samples of leaves ranged from 0.67 to 1.38 mg/kg d.w (mean = 1.07 mg/kg d.w) and 0.9 to 2.71 mg/kg d.w (mean = 1.68 mg/kg d.w), respectively. Mean concentration of ∑DDTs in leaves exceeded the European pharmacopeia and United States pharmacopeia recommended maximum residue limit values for DDTs in medicinal plants (1.0 mg/kg). In addition, calculated hazard indices for silverbacks (36.35), females (57.54) and juveniles (77.04) suggested potential health risks to the mountain gorillas. o,p′-DDT/p,p′-DDT ratios (0.5–0.63) in samples of leaves confirmed recent input of dicofol-DDT type in Bwindi rainforest.

Original languageEnglish
Article number143692
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume758
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Cypermethrin
  • Health risks
  • Mountain gorillas
  • Organochlorine pesticides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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