Dian Fossey: The Champion of Mountain Gorillas

OV Digital Desk

Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Dian Fossey (16 January 1932 –  26 December 1985) was an American zoologist and conservationist who is best known for her extensive study of mountain gorillas in Rwanda. She spent 18 years studying and protecting the gorillas, and her work was instrumental in increasing understanding of the species and raising awareness of their conservation needs.

Life and Career

Fossey was born in San FranciscoCalifornia on 16 January 1932. Fossey began her study of gorillas in the mid-1960s and established the Karisoke Research Center in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, where she lived and worked until her murder in 1985. She observed the gorillas in their natural habitat and recorded detailed information about their behavior, social structure, and ecology. Her work also helped to expose and combat the illegal poaching of gorillas, which was threatening their survival.

Fossey’s work was widely recognized and respected by the scientific community, and she received numerous awards and honors for her contributions to conservation. However, her methods were sometimes controversial and she had conflicts with local people, government officials and other conservationists.

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Fossey’s book “Gorillas in the Mist” (1983) describes her research and experiences in the Rwandan rainforest and is widely considered a classic of natural history writing. After her death, the Gorilla Fund International (now the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund) was established in her honor to continue her conservation efforts.

In the early morning of 27 December 1985, Fossey was discovered murdered in the bedroom of her cabin located at the far edge of the camp in the Virunga MountainsRwanda. Fossey is buried at Karisoke in a site that she herself had constructed for her deceased gorilla friends.

Award and Legacy

Dian Fossey was awarded several awards and honors for her work in conservation and her study of mountain gorillas. Some of these include:

  • The National Geographic Society’s Centennial Award (1988) in recognition of her work in conservation and her contributions to our understanding of gorillas.
  • The J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize (1984) in recognition of her work to protect gorillas and their habitat.
  • The Indianapolis Prize (2005) for her pioneering research and conservation efforts.

Fossey’s legacy continues to live on through the ongoing work of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, which was established after her death to continue her conservation efforts. The organization is dedicated to the protection and study of gorillas and their habitat, and has been instrumental in raising awareness about the importance of protecting these animals and their environment.

Her work also inspired many people to work towards the protection of gorillas and other endangered species and their habitats, and she is considered as a leading figure in conservation field. Fossey’s research helped to change the way scientists and conservationists think about gorillas, primates and wildlife conservation in general.

Her book “Gorillas in the Mist” has also been widely read, and inspired many people, especially young people, to take an interest in conservation and wildlife protection. On 16 January 2014, Google Doodle celebrated Dian Fossey’s 82nd Birthday.