July 16, 2012
New, Improved Rwanda Headquarters Opens
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has just started the process of creating a regional center in Rwanda, by moving our Karisoke Research Center offices and other program facilities in the area to a large, modern office building in Ruhengeri, Musanze District. We expect the new facility will also increase our visibility and fundraising potential and provide space for education programs, conferences, visiting scientists, laboratories, community functions and more.
We had outgrown our offices in two small buildings in Ruhengeri, which were originally built as residences, so a more appropriate location has long been needed. It was becoming increasingly difficult to accommodate the current needs of our monitoring and protection, research, education, and GIS/remote sensing programs and several special projects with partners in the cramped residential buildings.
Located on the main street in Ruhengeri, the new building has two stories, each with 10 offices, as well as an attractive lobby and parking for more than 20 vehicles, plus a rear entrance for deliveries. In addition to space for all our administration and research offices, even allowing for future expansion, the building can house our GIS laboratory; laboratories for physical anthropology and biochemistry research such as analyzing fecal samples and DNA; classrooms for training and public education; a large room for meetings and conferences that can be rented to others; a library; and exhibits on Dian Fossey and Rwanda’s biodiversity. Our Grauer’s gorilla program in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will also have a footprint there, with centralized data storage, maps and meeting areas.
Some exhibit panels about gorillas are already installed, and will be joined by a cast of the legendary silverback Shinda and some of Dian Fossey’s personal possessions. Additional panels will explain the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s work in the DRC and at Karisoke. Other public areas planned include a gift shop, a visitor and information center, and a café. The building is located in an area visible to tourists going to Volcanoes National Park and is poised to become a hub for gorilla conservation in the region.
A “soft” opening occurred in June during a visit by Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund President and CEO Clare Richardson. More than a hundred Karisoke field staff attended the special event, with Rwandan dancers and drummers giving a spirited performance, and senior staff addressing the crowd. An official grand opening is planned for November.