23 Years of Gorilla Tourism Success After Dian Fossey


Dian Fossey Legacy

Its now 33 years after a great lover of mountain gorillas Ms Dian Fossey an American Primatologist lost her life to the merciless people in Karisoke region of the Virunga Massif. It’s obvisous that Dian Fossey is therefore worth cherishing in the success story of gorilla tourism in the Virunga conservation area. It’s fortunate, that much as Dain Fossey was killed, the people she had recruited up to present continued her campaign. Since then, there has been steady increase of mountain gorilla population from time to time. The recent gorilla census in the Virunga Massif indicates an increase in mountain gorilla numbers to 604, which add up to 400 gorillas in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park to make 1004 mountain gorillas surviving in the whole world. Altogether, 53 mountain gorilla families have been habituated in east and central Africa for trekking, 41 of which live in the Virunga massif and 17 reside in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest national park.

This year, Rwanda is to celebrate the success of Dian Fossey in saving the critically endangered mountain gorillas, which were at the verge of extinction. The celebration of Dian Fossey’s efforts will be on 7th September 2018 alongside mountain gorilla naming ceremony. Rwanda is celebrating its 14th edition of baby gorilla naming since 2004 when the first set of baby gorillas were named at the foothills of Volcanoes national park, a home to these critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Threats to gorilla tourism
Despite the success, gorilla safaris in Rwanda, Uganda & Congo have been and is still hindered by several factors some of which have scared away travelers. These include civil conflicts including kidnaps and killing of park rangers especially in Congo’s Virunga national park. It’s for this reason that all gorilla tours to Congo have been stopped until 2019 to create time for the accurate investigations. Illegal hunting for mountain gorillas is a serious threat in gorilla national parks. Hunting is by local people who trap to catch young gorillas and other animals in parks for wild meat and other materials. Diseases especially communicable diseases have disrupted the increase of mountain gorillas. Research show that most gorillas die at a young age. Habitat loss has also led to the shrinking of gorilla national parks. Most local communities adjacent to gorilla national parks are highly populates compared to the land available which force them to encroach on the forest park to expand their land for settlement and agriculture. Human wildlife conflicts are also common in gorilla national parks. Some local people claim they are not well compensated for their loss of land yet they were the former owners of the forests before the introduction of gorilla tours. Also, animals also escape to local people’s gardens, which upsets local people especially when responsible governments do not consider them.

The legacy of Dian Fossey
Like said already, Dian Fossey is one woman who will ever be celebrated and remembered for sacrificing her life to save these iconic apes from extinction. Unfortunately, Dian Fossey’s courageous efforts to save gorilla’s ended in 1985 when he has murdered by heartless people. However despite her killing, Dian Fossey’s efforts were not in vain. Gorilla tourism has become a success since her time. Today, a hike to the graveyard of Dian Fossey is one of the top activities done in Volcanoes national park as travelers hike to recognize and commemorate her efforts. Having heard several stories about this strong woman, most travelers cannot manage leaving Rwanda without visiting Dian Fossey’s burial site for themselves. The karisoke research center has several documentaries about Dian Fossey and her activities to saving mountain gorillas which reward travelers with extensive knowledge about the great Dian Fossey.

But who was Dian Fossey?
Much as a lot has been said about Dian Fossey and her contribution to save the critically endangered mountain gorillas, some people do not know whom Dian Fossey is. This great woman was born on 16th January 1932 who left her home place (America) in 1968 to come and save mountain gorillas, which were at the verge of extinction. Dian Fossey set up a camp at karisoke for 17 years supporting several conservation programs to save gorillas. Unfortunately, Dian Fossey has in 1985 murdered by heartless people who are believed to be porters who were opposed to her works. To ease her conservation works, Dian Fossey hired over 160 people to help her in daily gorilla protection, scientific study, educational initiatives and support to improve the lives of the local communities.

Would mountain gorillas be alive without Dian Fossey
It’s unquestionable that if it were not the sacrifice of Dian Fossey, mountain gorillas would likely be extinct today. In order to raise enough funds for gorilla conservation, Dian Fossey established the Dian Fossey fund from which she collected money to pay the workers she hired to help her out. These people included the anti poaching patrols that helped to stop poaching and illegal hunting in Volcanoes National park and the Virunga conservation area. Also, Dian Fossey fund aimed at saving the sister lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega national park to complement mountain gorillas.

In General, Dian Fossey is worth celebrating for her tireless efforts to conserve mountain gorillas in the Virunga conservation area. Gorilla trekking is the most done activity in the Virunga massif which no travel should miss out on his/her African safari. Book a gorilla safari to Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and the Virunga conservation area to enjoy this life changing experience.