January 20, 2011
Staying in touch with Africa: Fossey Fund Field staff and HQ in Atlanta daily communications about gorilla conservation
Because the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund's International headquarters are in Atlanta, GA, we have a 6-hour time difference between here and our staff in Africa. As I spend the time each day sending and receiving dozens of messages, documents and sometimes photos, via the internet I gain a new appreciation for Dian Fossey and her life at the Karisoke Research Center, Rwanda.
No cell phone, no laptop, no internet, no electricity. Gorilla reports, written on a manual typewriter, were sent in waterproof pouches down the mountain by runners from the Karisoke staff. Then by bus to Kigali and onwards via what we now call snail mail. Answers came back the same way, as did the precious funds necessary to keep her gorilla research and protection programs active.
The time lag for her, between one message and the response, would be totally unacceptable by today's standards, yet the constant pressure to respond is still sometimes a challenge for our field staff, (and sometimes for this CEO in Atlanta). Lack of bandwidth in many places in Africa and access to the internet for Fossey Fund staff in very remote areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo are understandable but frustrating. Cell phones on the other hand have opened up a whole new world in Africa allowing people even in remote areas to communicate with their families, colleagues and the outside world.
What a difference in just two decades!
More from me later this week,
Helping people. Saving gorillas.