31. maaliskuuta 2012

Dian Fossey

I don’t know how many of you have heard of Dian Fossey but, to me, she is true a legend.

I was just a kid when I saw a movie called Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey (starring Sigourney Weaver). I loved it! It was both touching and heartbreaking - it made me cry. That movie made so big of an impression on me that I ended up buying the book, Gorillas in the Mist (in Finnish: Sumuisten vuorten gorillat). After reading that book all I wanted was to become a zoologist, and live with gorillas, just like Dian.

In short, Dian Fossey was an American zoologist who undertook an extensive study of gorilla groups over a period of 18 years. She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by famous anthropologist Louis Leakey.

The deaths of some of her most studied gorillas caused Fossey to devote more of her attention to preventing poaching and less on scientific publishing and research. She became more intense in protecting the gorillas and began to employ more direct tactics: she and her staff cut animal traps almost as soon as they were set; frightened, captured and humiliated the poachers; held their cattle for ransom; burned their hunting camps and even mats from their houses. She also constantly challenged the local officials to enforce the law and assist her.

Fossey was discovered murdered in the bedroom of her cabin in Virunga Mountains on December 27, 1985 at the age of 53. The case remains open. The last entry in her diary read:

"When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future".

When and where I bought the book written on the inner cover

Fossey's skull had been split by a machete, a tool widely used by poachers, which she had confiscated from a poacher years earlier, and hung as a decoration on the wall of her living room adjacent to her bedroom. She was found dead beside her bed, with her handgun beside her, and her own hair pulled out and in her hand. She was in the act of loading her weapon, but picked the wrong type of ammunition during the struggle. The cabin showed signs of a struggle as there was broken glass on the floor and tables along with other furniture overturned. All her valuables were still in the cabin - thousands of dollars in cash, travelers' checks, and photo equipment remained untouched. She was 2 metres away from a hole cut in the wall of the cabin on the day of her murder. 

Fossey is interred at Karisoke in a site that she herself had constructed for her dead gorilla friends. She was buried in the gorilla graveyard next to Digit, and near many gorillas killed by poachers. (source: Wikipedia, 31.3.2012)

You can find more info on Dian Fossey and the mountain gorillas on www.gorillafund.org.
I’m personally a member of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Sometimes I do wish I could do more for the gorillas...

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