by AdminSoa
January 16, 2014

Who is Dian Fossey?

The name Dian Fossey has become almost synonymous with the beautiful mountain gorillas for whom she tirelessly campaigned. Immortalized in the book and filmĀ Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey devoted her life to the study and preservation of mountain gorillas, Fossey's passion for these gentle giants would lead to her eventual murder.

Fossey was sent to Rwanda by world-famous anthropologist, Louis Leakey at the same time that Jane Goodall was studying chimpanzees and Birute Galdikas was studying orangutans. The trio, sometimes known as 'Trimates', are responsible for much of the knowledge we have of primates today, and all contributed greatly to the preservation of our closest living relatives.

Fossey's 'Digit Fund' is today known as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, and continues her hard work of studying the animals, actively working to prevent poaching, and educating people about their plight.

Each year, during the Kwita izina festival, newborn gorillas are named in a ceremony inspired by Fossey's close work with the animals.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda

mother gorilla

Created by Dian Fossey as the Digit Fund in 1978, what is now known as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund started as a means to help fund Fossey's tireless work to fight gorilla poaching.

The fund was named for Fossey's favourite gorilla, Digit, who was killed by a poacher for the sum of $20 USD. Ferocious on his defense of his family, the brave gorilla killed one of the attacker's dogs and allowed his family to escape before succumbing to his wounds.

In response to the attack, Fossey started the fund to help in financing increased anti-poaching patrols.

To this day, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (renamed in 1992) continues this hard work, and visitors to Musanze on the edge of the Volcanoes National Park can pay a visit to the Fund to learn more about the good work they are doing in defence of the mountain gorillas.

Visit Dian Fossey's Grave


For those wishing to pay their respects to the fallen defender of these beautiful creatures, hiking visits to her former research station and her gravesite can be arranged.

The three to four hour trek takes visitors into Volcanoes National Park to where her research site once stood. All that remains today is her gravesite and the graves of her beloved gorillas, but the walk itself is a scenic one.

Are you interested in an African safari?

Contact one of our safari experts and we will tailor-make a safari for you!