The day 16th January 1932, saw the birth of a child who would be remembered in the world of Tourism on an international Scene, Dian Fossey. Dian was an American zoologist, primatologist and anthropologist. During her childhood life, her parents divorced and she grew up in the company of a step father. She was a brilliant student during her time in school and was extremely interested in animals.
When she was a teen, she was a
pre-veterinary student at the University of California. Unfortunately,
Physics and Chemistry challenged her and then she decided to
concentrate on a degree in occupational therapy at San Jose state
college and graduated in the year 1954. Dian had always had a dream of
viewing wildlife and had photos of several destinations of Africa given
to her by a friend who had visited magnificent breath taking continent.
Dian decided to put everything aside and focus on making her dream a
reality. In 1963, she got a bank loan and began planning her first trip
In 1963, Dian arrived in Kenya, a country at the coast of
East Africa. Her dream of viewing the wildlife had come to life. She
was amused by the different features and wildlife she viewed. She made a
visit to Tanzania, Congo and Zimbabwe.
Later in 1967 Dian Fossey; arrived in Rwanda
and set up a research center between Visoke and Karisimbi Volcano
mountains, Karisoke Research center. The mountains are located in
Volcanoes National Park, North of Rwanda. She named the center karisoke
from the first four letters of Mt.Karisimbi, “Kari”, which overlooked
the center from the south; and “soke” from Mt.Visoke in the north. This
site is always explored by travelers on gorilla safaris in Rwanda.
The center was basically to concentrate on the behavior of the Mountain
gorillas. Dian spearheaded a campaign on the conservation of mountain
gorillas and mobilized resources to stop the act of poaching which was
on going in Rwanda. The poachers saw her as a threat who was intervening
with their act.
On the 27th December 1985, Dian was murdered, few
weeks to her 54th birthday. It is believed Dian’s murder was because of
her effort in conserving the mountain gorillas and campaign against poaching in Rwanda.
Robbery was not believed to be the motive for the crime, as Fossey's
treasures were found in her room like her handguns, passport, lots of
dollars in traveler cheque and U.S bills. The final recording in her
”When you realize the value of all life, you dwell
less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the
Dian Fossey was put to rest near her research center,
Karisoke which is in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Next to her
grave, is that of Digit, her best gorilla friend, who died in 1977.
Fossey's life and effort to conserve mountain gorillas; well as fighting
the act of poaching in Rwanda was portrayed in the movie “GORILLAS IN
THE MIST”, a commemoration movie done by Universal Records.
has also been set up of infrastructure to commemorate the hero; like the
Dian Fossey hotel in Nyiramacibiri, Rubavu District, western province
of Rwanda near lake Kivu; Organizations such as the Dian Fossey Gorilla
Fund International, which basically aims at conserving the mountain
Gorillas and fighting poaching in both Volcanoes national park Rwanda
and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dian Fossey’s history and great acts have made her a living testimony of conservation and a Rwanda safari product.