Dian Fossey

by Trish Stull

Who was Dian Fossey?

Dian Fossey was most remembered for her efforts to conserve the gorilla population and her new discoveries about gorillas. She proved to the world that gorillas were not the vicious creatures people thought they were, but peaceful vegetarians.

Gorillas in the Mist

Dian published her own book called Gorillas in the Mist on January 1, 1983. She tells her story of how she came to study gorillas and her interaction and findings about them. She describes how it took years to have the gorillas accept her and the hardships she went through in the Rwandan mountain forest. She also discusses about the four gorillas families she has studied and became friends with, especially her favorite gorilla, Digit. When Digit was killed by poachers, her story was spread internationally and she was able to address the importance of conserving and protecting the gorillas to the entire world. Her book was also turned into a movie of the same name in 1988 with Sigourney Weaver starring as the lead role.
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Dian's Death and Legacy

Dian was found dead in her forest camp on December 26, 1985. Although her murderer was never found, it was assumed that poachers did it. Despite her early death, Dian contributed to the world greatly. She worked very hard to save the few hundred gorillas in the Rwandan mountain forest from going extinct. She destroyed traps laid out by poachers and even went after gorillas killers herself. She also was very against tourism thinking that it could hurt the gorillas. Although she was a bit extreme in her methods, it worked out in the end. Today, there are more gorillas in the forest than when Dian Fossey was working and studying gorillas. Her legacy also continues through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, previously known as the Digit Fund. She set the fund up herself to honor her favorite gorilla. Today the fund continues its efforts to help endangered gorillas species.