When you realise the value of life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on preservation of the future”- Dian Fossey –
Dian Fossey was an American zoologist born in San Francisco on January 16, 1932 and was murdered in December 1985 . She spent a considerable amount of her life time in Rwanda camping in the ancient Virunga slopes where it is believed that she was conducting a study of the famous and endangered mountain gorillas with an aim of preserving the the remaining gorillas which were under attack by poachers who hunted down gorillas not only for their meat but also for their precious and tough far coat skins and so its fair to say that without the help of Dian Fossey and some of the local people she had employed to help her , there would have been lesser or no gorillas by today.
Influences and Desire
Dian Fossey was influenced by the conservation and environmental efforts of a couple by the names of Doctor Louis and her wife Mary who were operating in Tanzania by that time and by the help of a loan given to her, she was able to travel to Tanzania to meet the couple and as days past, she grew more desire and passion to preserve and save the environment and the habitats of the environments. She met more environmentalists and zoologists like Goodall who was on a field research studying and protecting chimpanzees and George who was studying Gorillas in Congo.
She started her gorilla field research in 1966 in Democratic Republic of Congo under the funding of the Leakey couple she had met in Tanzania but as political instabilities in Congo developed, she decided to migrate further south into the mighty Virunga ranges which also hosted a relative population of Gorillas and after settling down for some time, she established the Karisoke Research Center.
Around 1970, Dian Fossey was exposed to the outside world by a picture taken by a photographer B. Campbell which was cover page of the famous Geography book “National Geography” and with the spotlight on her, she increased her efforts with help, donations and support from environmental groups and organizations which came up to support her in her campaign to protect and preserve the mountain gorillas which were under the threat of extinction due to poaching.
Tourists always thought of the Gorilla as King Kong symbolizing violence, destruction, huge and dangerous but all this changed when Dian Fossey was pictured touching the gorillas and playing with them and this also help to improve and boost the Rwanda tourism sector.
Death of Dian Fossey
Dian Fossey was murdered on 26th December 1985 and its believed that a local poacher split her skull into two sending a message that they(the poachers) were tired of the suppressing efforts to combat gorilla poaching were leading to poverty and hunger to the arrogant poachers who had relied on gorilla meat and skins for food and income respectively. The poachers grew tired of the frequent arrests by the anti poaching patrols under Dian and so one day as Dian was alone in the Virungas, she was attacked by a man suspected to be one of her student at the Karisoke Research Center.
Who killed Dian Fossey still remains a question?
She was buried on 26th December 1985 next to her favorite gorilla “Digit” in the Virungas
After her death
Poaching in the Virungas accelerated after the death of Dian Fossey with a very large population of leopards being poached and things worsened when the Rwanda genocide broke out, Many people from all corners of Rwanda took refuge in the Virungas encroaching on the gorilla land and poaching for meat to feed their families but as time progressed and the genocide stopped, the Rwandan government stepped in to rescue what was left of the Virungas , gorillas and other wildlife in the slopes./ source
Check also ; BBC Earth News – Scale of Gorilla Poaching Exposed.