The famous Dian Fossey a re-known primatologist and zoologist of American origin is noted to have sacrificed his life time and resources towards Mountain Gorilla Conservation in the Virunga Massif always explored by travelers on gorilla safaris in Rwanda.
For the period of eighteen (18) years, Dian Fossey undertook a wide and in depth research about the Mountain Gorillas basing from her research station at Karisoke positioned at a saddle between Mount Bisoke and Mount Karisimbi one of the eight Volcanic Mountains which comprise the Virunga massif straddling across Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dian Fossey’s drive was championed by Dr Louis and Mary Leakey who were operating an anthropological research at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania – the site where the skull of the early man was discovered and now a heritage site and a Tanzania Safari tour destination.
Dian Fossey arrived in Democratic Republic of Congo and established her camp at Kabara to commence her research studies about the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas in the year 1967. Unfortunately, the soldiers arrested Dian Fossey on July 9th 1967 along with her research assistants and imprisoned them at Rumangabo for two (2) weeks before she took an escape route after bribing one of the guards. She finally reached Walter Baumgartel’s Travelers Rest Hotel in Kisoro the present day Traveler’s Rest Hotel used by Uganda Safari tour undertakers visiting Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
After this crisis, Dian Fossey was advised by Dr. Leakey to reconsider the decision of setting up a station in Congo and opt for Rwanda and it is from this background that Dian Fossey ended up in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. In Sept 1967, Karisoke research station was established and had gone through a range of developments up to when it was recently relocated to Ruhengeri town but the historical grave of Dian Fossey and that of her favorite Silverback Digit still remain making the center for the Dian Fossey hike activity always carried out by travelers on safaris in Rwanda.
Dian Fossey is credited for having raised the plight of Mountain Gorillas world over, made attempts to fight poaching and her research studies have been pivotal in understanding this Species. A movie titled Gorillas in the Mist was shoot in commemoration of her works while the Dian Fossey Fund International still conducts studies and monitoring about the Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.