In addition to daily gorilla protection and science, the Fossey Fund is dedicated to teaching and building the capacity of aspiring young conservationists where we work. This includes academic internships for undergraduate students as well as professional internships for those who have already graduated and need practical training for their careers in science and conservation.
In Rwanda, we recently welcomed three new professional interns, as well as one returning intern. All of them also did undergraduate work at our Karisoke Research Center while they were part of our ongoing programs for biology students. As professional interns, these young scientists will now learn additional skills and knowledge as they work with our staff in the field, laboratories, classrooms and offices. This program is supported by the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, so that the interns can receive a small monthly salary.
Our newest professional interns are Laban Kayitete, Jean de Dieu Tuyizere, and Nelly Nshimirimana, all of whom did undergraduate work at Karisoke last year.
Laban holds a bachelor’s degree in biology/botany and conservation. With the help of his supervisors, he is now working on publication of his academic research project entitled “Observations on regeneration of a keystone plant species, Hagenia abyssinica in Volcanoes National Park.” He also helps in welcoming and guiding visitors at our public Karisoke exhibit and will be involved in data collection on bird habitat assessment.
Jean de Dieu also holds a bachelor’s degree in biology/botany and conservation, and now assists in our community conservation program, where he collects data from the school environmental clubs that we work with. He is also revising his research for publication, entitled “Assessment of landscape change outside the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, using satellite imagery.” Jean de Dieu is especially interested in GIS (geographic Information system) technology, which is used for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. He plans to continue his studies in this direction, and use these skills to conduct further research.
Nelly holds a bachelor’s degree in biology/zoology and conservation, and is now working at our Karisoke exhibit. “I am also learning more about primates and other biodiversity of Volcanoes National Park, since I will be involved in different data collection during this internship,” she says.
We are also happy to have Marie Fidele Tuyisenge for her second year as professional intern at Karisoke. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology/botany and conservation, and is currently preparing a scientific manuscript based on her undergraduate research project, entitled “Fecal analysis as tool for identifying herbivores diet, a case study of mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. “I am grateful to the work of Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo are doing to support young graduates to get experience in their field and learning new skills,” she says.
“The benefits are mutual, as interns are eager to learn and practice tasks, as well as to further their scientific skills, at the same time as they contribute to the running of our programs,” says Felix Ndagijimana, the Fossey Fund’s Rwanda program director and director of the Karisoke Research Center. “They provide significant help to Karisoke and also gain great advantages for employment as they begin their careers.”