Protecting Gorillas in Rwanda

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International has studied and protected the endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda since 1967.

Mt. Karisimbi in Rwanda, home to mountain gorillasDian Fossey established the Karisoke™ Research Center in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in 1967 after fleeing civil war on the Congo side of the mountains. Her cabin and other buildings were destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed again during Rwanda’s civil war in the 1990s. The Fossey Fund currently operates Karisoke from offices in Musanze (formerly Ruhengeri). The Fund also operates a facility in Kinigi, Rwanda for the temporary care of young gorillas confiscated from poachers, in partnership with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.

Today, Karisoke™ is the world’s centerpiece for the study and protection of the mountain gorilla. Karisoke continues to conduct daily gorilla monitoring, protection, and research. Its staff now protect nearly one-third of all the mountain gorillas in the Virungas. They also provide biodiversity training programs for Rwandan park staff and other conservation partners.

We work to protect gorillas in Rwanda in a landscape that includes some of the most densely populated areas in Africa. The Fossey Fund connects local people with gorilla conservation through numerous health and education projects in the towns that border Volcanoes National Park, especially in Bisate, where most Karisoke™ staff and their families live. The Fossey Fund has designated Bisate one of two "model conservation villages." 

After the end of civil war brought stability to Rwanda, the government of Rwanda recognized the contribution Karisoke continues to make to the country’s development. In addition to helping to protect Rwanda’s precious natural resources and providing employment, capacity building and other services, Karisoke’s work has made it possible for the Rwandan park authority (the Rwanda Development Board, formerly ORTPN) to develop controlled gorilla tourism that now provides them with a major source of revenue, shared with communities neighboring the park.

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