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Dian Fossey

In 1967, Dian Fossey’s pioneering work to study and protect mountain gorillas in Rwanda began. Although Fossey’s life was cut short, her work has continued through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and has grown into conservation efforts for other wildlife in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, extensive scientific research and education efforts, and community development programs for the people who live near the gorillas.

A Legendary Biography

Among the most legendary scientists of our time, Dian Fossey went to Africa at the urging of famed anthropologist Louis Leakey and began her groundbreaking studies of gorilla behavior. She faced and overcame many obstacles and ultimately gave her life to gorilla protection.

Founding Karisoke,
September 1967

Dian Fossey set up two small tents in the Virunga wilderness and coined the name “Karisoke,” after nearby Mt. Karisimbi and Mt. Bisoke. The work she began there has since grown into the world’s centerpiece for gorilla research and conservation, producing most of our scientific knowledge about gorillas. The Fossey Fund’s extensive research programs are now housed at our new Ellen DeGeneres Campus in Rwanda.

A Lasting Legacy

From showing what one person with courage and commitment can do, to creating innovations in science and conservation, Dian Fossey truly created a lasting legacy. She is immortalized today as well through the gorilla population that still lives on, in part as a result of the work she started.