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Published on : Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Dr Dian Fossey was one of the most important scientists of the 20th century. Globally recognised for her extensive study of mountain gorillas in Rwanda and her efforts in gorilla conservation. Fossey will be always remembered at Volcanoes National Park, where Rwanda’s gorilla population grows every year.
Part of the legacy left behind by Dian Fossey is the Karisoke Research Centre, in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National park, the world’s best hope for the survival of endangered mountain gorillas and their ecologically critical habitat. The Centre works in collaboration with Rwandan park authorities, local communities and other Rwandan conservationists who recognize that the gorillas and their habitat contribute significantly to their country’s economic sustainability. It continues to attract scientists and students from all over the world, who study both practical and basic scientific aspects of the mountain gorilla.
Founded by Dian Fossey in 1967 the centre has since produced an unparalleled amount of information about the mountain gorillas and their habitat. Thanks to its active conservation program, the mountain gorillas of the whole Virunga mountain range are the only great ape species to have increased in number in recent decades, making Rwanda home to over 300 gorillas which is close to 35% of the world’s population.
Fossey was killed in 1985 in her cabin at the old scientific base where she did much of her work, in the foothills of Volcanoes National Park. Her extensive study of mountain gorilla groups in Rwanda over a period of 18 years, has now laid the foundations of the outstanding conservation work, which continues to protect the species and their habitats across Africa.
Her grave is located on the saddle between mount Bisoke and mount Karisimbi, in Volcanoes National Park. She is buried with the beloved gorillas she studied and her tomb can be visited during a 3-4 hour trek through some of the most beautiful stretches of the forest.