Dian Fossey's Work with Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

In 1967, American ethologist and trained occupational therapist Dian Fossey (1932-1985) began observing groups of mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei) at the Karisoke Research Center in the Virunga Volcanoes of Rwanda, where she would live among gorillas for a period of eighteen years. Fossey’s research included gorilla vocalizations and observations in hierarchies and social relationships among gorilla groups. During the course of her research, Fossey became devoted to saving the gorillas and their natural habitats, and engaged in anti-poaching campaigns. Her book Gorillas in the Mist became a bestseller. The book was later made into a motion picture about Fossey’s life and work. In 1985, Fossey was attacked and killed in her research camp. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (formerly “Digit Fund” - named after Fossey’s favorite gorilla, Digit, who had been killed by poachers) continues her work in gorilla monitoring and protection.

Further Readings: 
  • Fossey, Dian. Gorillas in the Mist. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983.
  • Morell, Virginia. Ancestral Passions: The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind's Beginnings. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
  • Mowat, Farley. Women in the Mists: The Story of Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas of Africa. New York: Warner Books, 1987.