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2021 Annual Report

Tara Stoinski - Fossey Fund Annual Report

A Letter from our CEO

Each member of a family has a role to play. A silverback protects the smaller members of his family; our trackers protect the gorillas; and our donors and partners offer support to ensure that our work never stops. As you’ll see in this Annual Report, we had a successful year in 2021 thanks to the support of all our family members, from the trackers and researchers on the ground, to the community members in towns and villages near the gorilla habitat, to our family of donors across the globe.

In 2021, we enhanced our protection efforts for gorillas, removing 2,500 snares and adding 21% more land to our community conservation forests in DR Congo. We advanced equity in conservation and science through our intensive scientific and training programs for African scientists. We shared the important story of gorillas and conservation with an estimated audience of three billion people through numerous popular press outlets, podcasts and features like 60 Minutes. We positively impacted the lives of more than 12,000 people by providing jobs and improving access to food, water and livelihoods. Through the construction of our new permanent home —the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund — we were responsible for the creation of more than 2,350 jobs in Rwanda during a time when the country’s economy was hard hit by the pandemic.

Our Fossey Fund family is creating a better future for gorillas, for people and for our planet, and we are grateful for the ways our mighty family is changing the world for the better.

Throughout the year every member of our family was true to our mission of “Helping People, Saving Gorillas.” And no matter what waits for us around the corner in 2022, we’ll be ready. We hope you’ll stay with us on our journey.

Thank you for supporting us in 2021.

Tara Stoinski

Dr. Tara Stoinski

President, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Our Approach:

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is the longest-running gorilla conservation organization in the world. At the time Dian Fossey began her pioneering work in 1967 it was predicted that the dwindling mountain gorilla population would be extinct before the year 2000. Flash forward to present day, and mountain gorillas are the only great ape whose population is known to be increasing in number. With 50+ years in the field, we know that our holistic, integrated approach to gorilla conservation works – that’s why we never leave the forest.

The Fossey Fund has boots on the ground every single day in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo implementing an intensive, four-pronged model of conservation to protect gorillas and their critical habitat:


Thanks to the dedication of our trackers, 2021 saw a 6% growth in the mountain gorilla population we help protect and a 21% increase in our Nkuba Conservation Area in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We removed 2,500 snares, preventing injury to gorillas and the biodiversity that shares their forest home. 

Training Future Leaders

Training the next generation of conservationists is one of our passions. Last year we provided classroom and field-based training to 180 undergraduate students, supported 9 staff members to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees and worked with 20 university students who were completing their senior thesis work.

Helping Communities

Our community programs—which include initiatives focusing on food and water security, livelihoods and education —lessen human reliance on the forest as a source of food or income. Through our partnerships with 17 primary schools in these communities, we distributed more than 2,000 pounds of vegetables, immediately improving nutrition, and planted 16,300 trees, many of which will provide increased food security for years to come.

Scientific Research

One of our most important goals is to address inequity in science, and we are proud to say that we are making a difference. Of the 19 papers we produced in 2021, 25% were led by our African staff and students—a number that is 10 times higher than what we see in the larger scientific community.

Our New Home

In 2021, we completed our much-anticipated new home—the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund—and in early 2022 we opened our doors, becoming a global hub for conservation research. The state-of-the-art facility is enabling us to expand and amplify our mission of helping people, saving gorillas.

Building our Ellen Campus halfway around the world during a global pandemic presented many overwhelming challenges. But thanks to our donors, partners and staff members, our dream has become a reality. This project has been years in the making, and we are grateful to the many people who made it come true. From our lead donors, to our board of directors, to the Founders Circle, Conservation Heroes and Gorilla Champions, you truly are an inspirational group of supporters!

We proudly recognize the generous donors who made the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund possible.

Reflections of Gratitude

In 2021 the Fossey Fund continued our work thanks to the generosity of more than 16,000 individual donors from over 80 countries around the world. Their inspiring messages of support and hope from donors motivate our unwavering staff to stay in the field 365 days a year helping people and saving gorillas.

We are grateful for your continued belief in and support of our mission.