Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey was an American primatologist and conservationist who dedicated her life to the studying of gorillas on the virunga mountain ranges.  Dian Fossey established two tents between Karisimbi and Bisoke mountains where the Karisoke research institute was found.

Dian Fossey arrived at the virunga ranges on September 24th 1967 she alienated herself from the supported and enemies while developing a bond with the endangered mountain gorillas, Dian Fossey first encountered the mountain gorillas during her seven week trip to Africa. She was a therapist by occupation and abandoned her career just to preserve the remaining population of mountain gorillas.

Dian Fossey strongly supported conservation of wildlife and was against poaching in Rwanda parks. Dian Fossey was born in San Francisco, California sadly, her parents divorced at the age of six years and she lost contact with her father while her step father never treated her as his own child, facing the segregation, Fossey resorted to living in the wild as a way of gaining acceptance.

Fossey dedicated all her life to the virunga mountains and never got married she was known by the locals as the woman who lives in the forest without a man, she named some of the gorillas after her family members and also adapted some of the gorillas whose mother’s had been killed by poachers.

Dian Fossey was encouraged to work in the virunga mountains by Louis Leaky a paleontologist, she later wrote a book in 1983 that was adapted by a film in 1988 “ Gorillas in the Mist”. Fossey was in a group of trimates Jane Goodall and Birute Galdikas all the three were dedicated to the studying of gorillas.

Dian Fossey specialized in gorillas, Galdikas on orangutans and Goodall specialized on chimpanzees, Fossey borrowed a year salary and got her life time savings to visit Africa, she first arrived in Kenya in 1963, after her visit she went back to repay her loans and wrote three articles about her visit in Africa in the courier journal.

Dian Fossey stood still while many students left due to the remote conditions of the virunga volcanoes; Fossey finances patrols to destroy the poacher’s traps it’s said that over 900 traps were destroyed by 1979. In the year 1968 Fossey’s favorite gorilla was killed by poachers

Dian Fossey was later on funded by Leakey and she relocated to study the mountain gorillas in Africa abandoning her job, they helped her in obtaining work permits within the virunga regions and she also visited Goodall who showed her research methods of how she studied chimpanzees. She also enrolled in Swahili lessons for easy communication with the locals.

Dian Fossey’s efforts in the conservation of the mountain gorillas came to an end when she was brutally murdered in her cabin on the 26th of December 1985 her face had been split with a machete blow she was buried near her gorilla friends at the Karisoke research institute. Karisoke is now the longest running gorilla research program in the world. The institute also supports Grauers gorilla species that become extinct in Congo.

At the time of Dian Fossey’s funeral an American minister and few friends climbed up the mountain for her burialthey say Fossey might have been killed due to her knowledge about Rwandese animal trafficking and her support against poaching.

Tourists who visit Rwanda virunga volcanoes should endeavor to visit the Dian Fossey tomb and the Karisoke research institute to learn more about the mountain gorillas, her effort truly led to the increase of the gorilla population for the eighteen years she worked in the wilderness.

Tourists can trek mountain gorillas as well as enjoy wildlife viewing and there are various accommodation units at Virunga national park where you can spend a night from.

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