Supporting Higher Education in Africa

Through programs at universities in Rwanda, the Fossey Fund builds capacity among Africans, enabling them to better manage natural resources.

Our involvement in higher education in Rwanda is on-going and hands-on because of our significant and unique expertise.  Through collaborative partnerships with African universities, our contributions include teaching university-level courses, advising and supervising internships and research projects, providing expertise and funding for new courses and equipment and more as our collaborations evolve.

A resource for Rwandan university students

In recent years, the Fossey Fund’s Karisoke™ Research Center has provided opportunities for Rwandan university students in biology to conduct and complete their undergraduate theses on various aspects of the flora and fauna in the Virungas. This has proved highly successful, as more than 60 students have completed their theses at Karisoke so far. Partners in Conservation at the Columbus Zoo (PIC) has funded one of the undergraduate research projects annually in recent years. 

Students study a variety of topics, including mountain gorillas, other animals in the forest, vegetation, and interactions between local communities and the park animals and lands. Their work has enabled Karisoke to begin new formal research programs in botany, ornithology, studies of the rare golden monkey, and other topics. 

Karisoke™ staff have also provided conservation field courses for second- and third-year students from the Biology Department of the National University of Rwanda. These have included such topics as gorilla behavior, ecology and conservation, conservation science research methods, and biodiversity in the park, and include visits to the gorillas and other areas of Volcanoes National Park. These courses are integrated into the university curriculum and are intended to stimulate an interest in conservation and careers in zoology and botany through providing an opportunity for students to meet conservation scientists and practitioners.

In-depth internships on primates and on botany, as well as primate behavior courses and presentations on Karisoke‘s work, have also been presented to local students in institutions of higher education.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Cleveland Zoological Society funded the third-year (“memoir”) students and taught one week of classes in 2014. The course is tailored to teach students the specific techniques they will need to use to collect data in their fields.


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The cold, wet climate and dense rainforest wears out the clothes and equipment of our patrols quickly.
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