Today, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund celebrates the 49th anniversary of the founding of our Karisoke Research Center, by Dian Fossey on this day in 1967.
“Little did I know then that by setting up two small tents in the wilderness of the Virungas I had launched the beginnings of what was to become an internationally renowned research station eventually to be utilized by students and scientists from many countries,” Fossey wrote in her book “Gorillas in the Mist,” about the founding of “Karisoke,” a name she created from the nearby Mt. Karisimbi and Mt. Bisoke.
Fossey’s original objectives in founding Karisoke were to study gorilla ecology, demography and social organization. She found herself spending days searching for and attempting to observe these elusive animals, while encountering signs that poachers and other human intruders had preceded her. Fossey realized that to study gorilla ecology and behavior, she needed to recognize individual gorillas, which first required the gorillas to become accustomed, or habituated, to her presence.
Thus began a nearly 50-year legacy of study and protection of gorillas, now the longest-running field study of any primate, the source of much of our knowledge about gorillas, and the only conservation program that has led to an increase in a wild ape population.
What started with one woman is now a major international effort, with more than 100 trackers, research assistants and other staff, protecting and studying both mountain gorillas and Grauer’s gorillas.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (founded originally as the Digit Fund by Dian Fossey) is proud to carry and expand her legacy, truly among the top success stories in all of conservation.