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Dian Fossey

In 1967, Dian Fossey founded the Karisoke™ Research Center in Rwanda’s Virunga mountains to protect and study the endangered mountain gorillas. Although Fossey’s life was cut short, her work has continued through the Karisoke Research Center and grown into conservation efforts for other wildlife and programs for 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. Karisoke has since become the world’s centerpiece for gorilla research and conservation, producing most of our scientific knowledge about gorillas.

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, due to the work she started.