The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund was founded by Dr. Dian Fossey in 1978 to help Gorilla’s through daily protection, anti-poaching, research, education, and helping communities. Dian Fossey studied gorillas in the wilds of Rwanda up until her death in 1985. Thanks to her tireless efforts and countless hours of study, Dr. Fossey was able to gain the trust of the wild groups she observed and was able to uncover never before known aspects of Gorilla behavior.
Spending so much time watching and studying the gorillas of Rwanda, she became close to them. They almost felt like a second family. It was when one of the gorillas she was particularly found of, named Digit, was killed by poachers that Dr. Fossey began her war against poaching and her fight for gorilla conservation. She started the Digit Fund which would later be renamed the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in 1992.
Her book Gorillas in the Mist brought her not only world fame, but also helped the world become aware of the dangers that are being faced by mountain gorillas. Which during the time when the book first was published had plummeted to a shocking 250 in existence.
Sadly, Dr. Fossey was murdered in her cabin in December 1985 and her death is still a mystery. Some speculate it was done by those she known, others think it could have been poachers, or those who disagreed with her ideas that tourists are bad for mountain gorillas. Gorillas can easily catch the same diseases that humans can and tourists could bring with them diseases from their own countries. The common cold may not seem so bad for a person, but for a gorilla that has no immunity built up for it, it could prove deadly. Dr. Fossey was against the tourist business and thus made a lot of enemies from not only poachers, but also those who depended on tourist’s dollars.
She was buried in Rwanda at the Karisoke Research Center, next to Digit and other gorillas that had been lost over the course of her eighteen-year study.
Thankfully, Dr. Fossey’s dream still lives on in the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, dedicated researchers, and the Rwandan staff located at Karisoke. Mountain gorilla populations have been slowly rising to their efforts and their supporters. In 1988 the major motion picture based on Dr. Fossey’s book, Gorillas in the Mist, starring Sigourney Weaver has helped raise even more awareness for the plight faced by mountain gorillas. Through her role, Ms. Weaver was so touched by her experience that she became a major supporter for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and their chairperson.