Collaborations in Gorilla Conservation
Collaboration is essential to gorilla conservation and protection and a hallmark of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International’s work. The Fossey Fund is able to operate gorilla conservation and protection programs thanks to good working relationships with the governments of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and their national park authorities -- the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and ICCN in Congo. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International’s Karisoke™ Research Center supplements the guards in Volcanoes National Park with our own anti-poaching patrols, first established by Dian Fossey, and we help train the park guards and guides. We also conduct cross-border patrols with teams from the Ugandan park authority as well as the RDB and ICCN, covering all three sectors of the gorillas' habitat in the Virungas. Through our partner Gorilla Doctors, we provide medical assessment and care to the gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. \ An important joint project in 2010 was the mountain gorilla census, in which staff of the Karisoke Research Center joined teams from the park authorities of Rwanda, the DRC and Uganda to document the Virunga gorillas' increase since the previous census in 2003 and to collect other data essential to conservation planning.
Gorilla conservation collaborations go beyond direct gorilla protection
Each of the Fossey Fund’s programs carried out to reduce threats to gorilla survival -- primary, secondary and higher education, technical training, capacity building, awareness building, community outreach, health clinics, clean water, intestinal parasite treatment and hygiene education, protein access, rehabilitating rescued orphan gorillas, forest conservation, gorilla health interventions and scientific and conservation research -- can only be accomplished through collaborations because each organization contributes different specialized expertise, varied access to needed resources and unique relationships with stakeholders.
Rescued gorilla collaborations
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International cares for young gorillas rescued from poachers in Rwanda and the Congo at the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) center in the Congo, where the gorillas can live in a natural setting and be prepared for eventual release to the wild. GRACE was initiated by the Fossey Fund at the urging of the Congolese national park service (ICCN) with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and design and construction assistance from Disney's Animal Programs. The facility is operated by a small consortium, including the Fossey Fund, the Disney Company, ICCN and the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology (TCCB), which also donated the site. Community volunteers helped construct the facility, and TCCB students will conduct public education programs at GRACE.
Healthcare and clinic collaborations
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International’s intestinal parasite prevention and clinic rehabilitation programs work with the governments’ national health ministries in Rwanda and the Congo.
Science and research collaborations
The science and research programs that support the Fossey Fund’s gorilla conservation work are greatly enhanced through collaboration with scientists from research institutions and universities in Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International collaborates with all levels of Rwanda's and Congo’s educational systems, providing conservation education programs in elementary and secondary schools to teach the importance of the ecosystem in which the students live, discourage poaching and encourage careers in science. In Bisate, the town nearest to Volcanoes National Park, The Fossey Fund supports and collaborates with the primary and secondary school and was helped by the East Africa Children's Education Fund to rebuild a first grade classroom building that had collapsed. The Fossey Fund also works with Disney's Animal Kingdom to provide its conservation education programs in Rwandan primary schools.
Important to both Rwanda and the Fossey Fund, we offer field courses and research opportunities for many students each year from the National University of Rwanda and other Rwandan post-secondary institutions, which helps to develop individuals to manage and lead Rwanda’s stewardship of the country’s resources and contributes to our scientific work. In the Congo, the Fossey Fund has partnered with the unique community-based Tayna Center for Conservation Biology, which has provided the site for the GRACE center and is training the next generation of Congolese conservationists.