The NGO that helped establish World Gorilla Day — the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund — has learned a few important lessons for the conservation of gorillas and other species over the years. Firstly, conservation can’t happen without local support: when community members they work with come to understand the importance of the habitat that surrounds them, the project can succeed. Another lesson is that conservation takes time, money and diversification. “By engaging rather than excluding communities and ensuring that local people benefit from conservation, we have found that we can protect wildlife with a footprint that is 15 times smaller than that for mountain gorillas.” This article is an analysis for World Gorilla Day 2021 by the chief scientific officer of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Mongabay. I saw my first wild gorillas in Rwanda in 2002 and I was immediately drawn in by their power, their beauty, and the awareness that these amazing creatures were, despite their size and strength, at risk of disappearing from our planet. I was hooked. I’ve been privileged to work alongside scientists and conservationists in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo ever since, […]


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