Dian Fossey Conservation Work in Rwanda: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, created by Dr. Dian Fossey in 1967, is the world’s longest-running gorilla research facility. Her conservation work in Rwanda and research studies on Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park continues even after her death.
Science is an essential component of our work because it gives vital knowledge about gorillas as well as the other animals and plants in the forest environment in which they all live. As we learn about gorilla life, ecology, health, genetics, and other topics, the staff and park management are better able to establish successful conservation plans.
Dian Fossey’s scientific study of mountain gorillas began in 1967, when she travelled to Africa at the request of renowned anthropologist Louis Leakey. In 1967, Dr. Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Center and began her breakthrough research on gorilla behavior. Karisoke is the world’s longest-running gorilla study site, including cutting-edge, award-winning research on gorillas and their ecosystem.
Every year, staff at Dian Fossey Foundation in Rwanda spends thousands of hours gathering basic information on all aspects of gorilla life, such as ranging patterns, changes in group composition (such as births, deaths, and transfers), feeding and social behavior, health status, and major events such as dominance shifts and group interactions. The Rwandan government, local partners, and scientists from across the globe utilize the foundation’s datasets to address vital issues concerning gorilla behavior and conservation.
Where can one see mountain gorillas in Rwanda?
The whole world’s mountain gorilla population may be found in just three places: Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga National Park.
When it comes to witnessing mountain gorillas, Rwanda is a good choice for people with limited time. Volcanoes National Park, which is only a two-hour drive from Kigali International Airport on decent roads, is home to all of Rwanda’s habituated gorillas. Although you must be in good physical condition to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda, the terrain is significantly simpler than in Uganda, unless you opt to track one of the remoter gorilla families.
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda spans over a radius of approximately 160 square kilometers and is located in north-western Rwanda, bordering the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The Greater Virunga Conservation Area is made up of these three parks.
Volcanoes National Park is marked by five of the eight Virunga Mountains volcanoes that border the park: Karisimbi, Bisoke, Gahinga, Sabyinyo, and Muhabura. Farmland surrounds the park, with the local people cultivating land right up to the park’s edge.
Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is not the same as gorilla trekking in Uganda’s deep jungle of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Whereas hiking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park leads you immediately into the deep, gloomy forest, trekking in Rwanda begins with a moderate rise through wide fields with breath-taking vistas of the Virunga volcanoes on clear days.
Because the forest here is primarily bamboo, there are fewer canopies to screen the sunlight. The bamboo canes wobble several meters above the ground, cracking and groaning beneath the weight of the gorillas shuffling about in search of tender buds. Other times, the gorillas might be spotted out in the open, grazing on plants.
Visit Dian Fossey Grave in Rwanda.
Dian Fossey was found murdered in the bedroom of her cabin in Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains in 1985. She was – and still is – the most well-known researcher on the endangered mountain gorilla, of whom only around 250 are thought to exist in the wild.
“When you grasp the worth of all life, you linger less on what is past and concentrate on the protection of the future,” Fossey wrote in her journal, which was discovered in her cabin. The skull of Dian Fossey had been split open with a machete, a weapon used by poachers in the region to hunt and kill gorillas for resale.
Poachers in the region, against whom Fossey had campaigned for almost a decade, are thought to have had her slain to make their life easier. Thousands of dollars in cash, checks, and other valuables were discovered in the cabin, undisturbed.
Today, Fossey is buried beside her deceased gorilla pals, many of whom were undoubtedly slain by the same poachers who chased her. Memorial ceremonies were conducted in Washington, D.C, New York, and California following her death. The huts where she and her workers resided are no longer standing, save for a few empty foundations overrun with weeds.
The hike to Dian Fossey gravesite in Volcanoes National Park is a strenuous hike, steep climb that will take roughly five hours to complete. Protect yourself from the stinging vegetation by wearing gloves and covering up. To defend against poachers and wild animals, all tourist groups are escorted by armed guards.
A visit to Dian Fossey gravesite in Rwanda can be combined with other activities such as gorilla trekking, golden monkey trekking, climbing Mount Karisimbi or Mount Bisoke, canopy walk or chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park, primate tracking, and guided hiking tours. You can also enjoy viewing savannah wildlife in Akagera national park, combined with a boat cruise safari on Lake Ihema.