Our CEO and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Tara Stoinski has just returned from a whirlwind trip to Rwanda, where she delivered 500 pounds of supplies to our Karisoke team and worked on our new Ellen Campus.
Dr. Stoinski reports:
It was so great to finally have a chance to see the team in Rwanda—everyone at Karisoke is safe, healthy and hard at work! They send their appreciation to you, our donors, for your continued support during the difficult times COVID-19 has brought, and they are very proud that despite the pandemic, they not have missed a single day protecting the gorillas.
While in Rwanda, I worked with the team on various elements of our new Campus. I was really pleased to see how far we’ve come since my last visit in March, especially given the extreme challenges that COVID-19 has brought. We are now approximately half way through the construction phase, and the buildings are all starting to go up. Just as exciting, the project has employed 509 people, 97% of whom are Rwandans and 29% of whom are female. We’ve invested more than $4 million in Rwanda thus far. And we’ve propagated more than 90,000 plants and seedlings in our nursery as part of our reforestation efforts. A year before our Campus is scheduled to open, we’re very proud of the tangible and positive difference the project is making for the communities near the Volcanoes National Park.
About the Campus:
The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund will be the permanent headquarters of the Fossey Fund’s activities. Its mission is to inspire and educate the next generation of conservationists in Africa and beyond. They will be trained to tackle the conservation challenges of the future and to ensure the survival of gorillas and their biodiverse forest home. The multi-acre, eco-friendly facility adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park will include laboratories, a computer lab and library, flexible office and meeting space, classrooms, an interactive educational exhibit and on-site residences for visiting students and scientists. Built with locally-sourced materials and supplies, the campus will embody the Fossey Fund’s mission to conserve and limit its impact on the environment, through rainwater harvesting, green roofs, the planting of over 250,000 native plant species and a constructed wetland to treat wastewater and promote biodiversity.