Karisoke Research Center: Then & Now
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has studied and protected mountain gorillas in Rwanda since 1967, when Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Center, in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. The Fossey Fund now operates Karisoke from a nearby facility in the town of Musanze. Our team has grown to 120 people, most of whom are involved in the daily protection of half of Rwanda’s gorillas.
Rwanda is home to about half of the population of mountain gorillas, with the rest living in Congo and Uganda. Their habitat in Rwanda is a protected national park consisting of volcanic mountains as high as 8,000 feet.
Fossey Fund trackers provide daily protection for about 120 gorillas living in multiple groups, or about half of the mountain gorilla population in Rwanda.
Outside of the national parks, which contain numerous types of wildlife found only in this region, the landscape in Rwanda is some of the most densely populated in Africa. This puts additional pressure on the protected park lands, as human communities can be quite close to the parks. Although there is a wall bordering much of the park, sometimes the gorillas go outside the park, especially when seeking bamboo shoots during certain seasons. Fossey Fund trackers provide round-the-clock monitoring when this happens, to protect the gorillas and the people in the area.
The country of Rwanda has faced many challenges, including a civil war in the 1990s, and still faces a great deal of poverty. However, the progress made toward development, infrastructure, education, conservation and in other areas have been substantial and continuous since then.
Our dedicated trackers and other staff in Rwanda have managed to maintain daily monitoring of the gorillas almost uninterrupted since 1967.
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