The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is dedicated to the conservation, protection and study of gorillas and their habitats in Africa. Its successful, integrated approach includes close collaboration with local governments and communities as well as partners from around the world.
Helping people. saving gorillas.
NAT GEO TRAVELLER
"The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund opened in February 2022. The talkshow host and her wife Portia de Rossi were major funders of the mountain gorilla research and education center."
“The forest is critical to our survival,” says Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund President and CEO and Chief Scientific Officer Tara Stoinski, PhD.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund leads the world in protecting and studying gorillas, while helping communities build their conservation capabilities.
USA, Rwanda, & DRC
Fossey Fund's Work
Mountain gorillas live in just three countries: Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. The Fossey Fund works with the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, where it practices “extreme conservation” – boots on the ground 365 days a year, monitoring individual gorilla families and working to help implement the Rwandan government’s priorities for the park. Tracker teams also conduct daily anti-poaching patrols to remove snares and watch for other illegal activities that could impact the gorillas. The Fossey Fund also works in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to protect critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas. About 70% of Grauer’s gorillas live outside of national parks and have no formal protection, so the Fossey Fund decided in 2001 to expand into the DRC – the only place these gorillas are found – to protect them as well. Working with local communities, the Fossey Fund established a community conservation area called the Nkuba Conservation Area (NCA). Community members near the NCA agree not to hunt endangered wildlife; in exchange for this agreement, the Fossey Fund provides employment and invests in the development of local communities. The success of this project is demonstrated by its growth. Starting in 2011 with six families who owned 700 km2 of land, the NCA now comprises 20 families across 2,379 km2, roughly three times the size of New York City. It acts as an important carbon sink, holding an estimated quarter billion tons of carbon as well.
MOUNTAIN AND GRAUER’S GORILLAS TODAY
Just 30 years ago, there were only 240 mountain gorillas left in the Virunga mountains. By 2018, that number had increased to 600. Combined with the Bwindi population in Uganda, the total for the subspecies is just over 1,000. Because of this slow but consistent increase in both the Virunga and Bwindi populations, mountain gorillas have been upgraded from critically endangered to endangered, one small step further from extinction. Grauer’s, however, are considered the most endangered of the four gorilla subspecies. While their total individual numbers are higher, the rate of loss is staggering. Their population has dropped from approximately 17,000 individuals in 1995 to about 6,800 today – a 60% decline. Scientists think they will be functionally extinct within one to two decades if this decline isn’t halted.
About the Fossey Fund
Founded in 1967, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is the world’s longest-running and largest organization dedicated entirely to gorilla conservation. The Fossey Fund has 300 staff in Rwanda and eastern DRC working to conserve the region’s biodiversity using gorillas as an iconic, flagship species. The organization now protects almost 600,000 acres of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, which also contain an estimated quarter billion tons of carbon and are critical in the fight against climate change.
The Fossey Fund’s motto is “Helping People, Saving Gorillas,” and its four- pillared approach includes:
• Protecting individual gorillas and their families as well as more than2400 km2 of their biodiverse rich habitat,
through daily, boots-on-the-ground protection;
• Conducting the cutting-edge science needed to develop effective conservation strategies;
• Training the next generation of conservationists in Africa and beyond;
• Addressing human needs related to food security, livelihoods and educationfor communities near the gorilla habitat.
World Gorilla Day on Sept. 24, 2022, will now be celebrated at the new purpose-built campus in Rwanda – the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. World Gorilla Day recognizes the majesty of gorillas, with whom we share more than 98% of our DNA, and raises vital awareness about the many threats they face.