Founded by Dian Fossey one of the most eminent Gorilla experts in the world, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International continues to do vital work in protecting these endangered animals.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International was founded by famed Gorilla Researcher Dian Fossey in 1978. It was originally called the Digit Fund. It was named after one of Fossey's favourite male gorilla called Digit who was tragically killed while defending his family from poachers. Fossey believed in active conservation and took the poachers head on. After Fossey was murdered in 1987, the Digit Fund was renamed the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
The organization is dedicated to the conservation and protection of Gorillas and their habitat in Africa. The Fund works in collaboration with government agencies and other international partners to help achieve their goals.
The organizations Gorilla conservation efforts take place in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The centre works out of the Karisoke Research Centre in Rwanda and in the Volcanoes National Park.
Their main foci include protecting the gorillas from poaching, loss of habitat and disease. This is done through tracking and anti-poaching patrols. This helps curb the activities of poachers and prevent habitat destruction.
The patrols remove snares and traps which gorillas get caught in - the guards find and remove some 1,000 snares each year and help bring poachers to justice. They also shut down charcoal producing operations which cause major damage to the Virungas ecosystem as the large trees are cut down.
They also care for rescued Gorillas and support the rangers in the Virunga National Park. Due to the political climate in the three countries and its legacy of war and genocide at times all the Fund could do was pay basic salaries to government rangers and manage to keep patrols on the ground. This helped somewhat protect the Gorillas during the years of civil war.
The Fund also supports the rehabilitation of the Maiko National Park and several community-managed reserves which are home to the endangered Grauer's Gorillas which are also known as Eastern Lowland Gorillas. The Fund conducts scientific research on the Virungas ecosystem and the Gorillas.
They keep track of population numbers and make notes on the behavioural characteristics of Mountain Gorillas. The data collected forms one of the longest running studies done on any primate. The Fund also rehabilitates Gorillas which have been rescued from poachers in the hopes of returning them safely to the wild.
Another important aspect of their work is improving the living standards of the local community and teaching them the value of conservation. They hope to help the local people become stewards of their natural environment. This is achieved through health, education and developmental projects in partnership with other agencies, communities and local governmental authorities.