Karisoke™ Research Center
The Karisoke Research Center is the world’s centerpiece for the study and protection of the critically endangered mountain gorillas. The center was founded over 40 years ago by Dr. Dian Fossey and operated since her death by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Today, Karisoke is the greatest hope for the future of the mountain gorilla, and has become a significant resource for the people who live near the gorillas.
Dian Fossey founded Karisoke on September 24, 1967 between two of Rwanda’s Virunga mountains that inspired the name she chose: Mt. Karisimbi and Mt. Visoke. The center expanded from two small tents to a series of cabins that were destroyed, rebuilt, and finally destroyed again during periods of civil unrest since Fossey’s death. But the gorilla monitoring and protection Fossey initiated have continued for more than 40 years, with only one brief interruption in time of war. Karisoke staff now protect nearly one third of all the mountain gorillas in the Virungas.
The Karisoke Research Center has brought international attention and support to the plight of the mountain gorilla, and connected local communities with gorilla conservation through partnerships, education, and health and development projects. Scientists have access to a 40-year database of information about gorilla life, behavior, habitat and conservation, one of the longest-running primate studies. As a result of the continuous protection and monitoring by Karisoke staff in partnership with national park authorities in both Rwanda and the Congo, the mountain gorillas of the Virungas are the only great ape population to have increased in number in recent decades, from some 260 when Fossey arrived to 380 at the last census.
Learn more about Karisoke history, Karisoke today, and Karisoke’s future.