DIAN FOSSEY

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Dian Fossey was a primatologist and conservationist best known for her work studying mountain gorillas for 18 years in the forests of Rwanda. 

As a young woman, Dian struggled to make ends meet, eventually connecting with Mary and Michael Henry, who invited her to join them on their family farm and eventually inspired her to visit Africa. She borrowed one years salary and took out her life savings to pay for a seven week visit to Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rhodesia. It was on this trip that she met Louis and Mary Leaky and had her first glimpse of the mountain gorillas. 

Due to Dian’s passion for conservation and her intense interest in the mountain gorillas, Leaky lined up funding for her to relocate to Africa to study them, in the same manner that Jane Goodall had with chimpanzees. She learned Swahili, primatology, and basic gorilla tracking in preparation for her field study in the Congo. Due to political unrest in the Congo, Dian moved her research to Rwanda where she founded the Karisoke Research Center. She became known by locals as “the woman who lives alone in the mountain.”

In 1977, Dian’s favorite gorilla, Digit, was killed by poachers - putting up such a fight that he allowed the other 13 members of his group to escape. After discovering his mutilated body, Fossey’s group captured one of his killers who revealed the names of his five accomplices, three of whom were later imprisoned. She subsequently created the Digit Fund to raise money for anti-poaching patrols. Continued deaths of her most studied gorillas caused her to shift her focus from research to poaching prevention, destroying animal traps, frightening, capturing and humiliating poachers, and burning their hunting camps. 

By 1980 she had received her PhD from Cambridge University and was recognized as the world’s leading authority on the physiology and behavior of mountain gorillas. In 1983, she published Gorillas in the Mist, which was later turned into a feature film.

In December of 1985, Dian Fossey was brutally murdered in her cabin in Rwanda. Her death is believed to be at the hands of poachers seeking retaliation. 

Her final diary entry 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.”

The Digit Fund, now known as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, still exists today and her legacy has lead to major conservation and anti-poaching efforts. Clearly, Dian Fossey was a Boss Ass Bitch. 

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