Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey (January 16, 1932 – c. December 26, 1985) was an outstanding American primatologist and conservationist who researched mountain gorillas for over 18 years in the mountain forests of Rwanda, where she founded the Karisoke Research Center in 1967. She was known to the locals as Nyirmachabelli, or Nyiramacibiri, which roughly means "The woman who lives alone on the mountain." In 1982 she also wrote a book, "Gorillas in the Mist", about her work/research with gorillas as well as her own personal story with them. Among her discoveries are how females transfer from group to group over the decades, gorilla vocalization, hierarchies and social relationships among groups, rare infanticide, gorilla diet, and how gorillas recycle nutrients. Her book was adapted into a movie in 1988 (after her death). Dian was also an activist who fiercely opposed poaching and tourism in wildlife habitats and helped to arrest several poachers. Her favorite gorilla, Digit, was killed and barbarically decapitated and mutilated by poachers on December 31, 1977. Following his death, Dian created the Digit Fund (now the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in the USA) to raise money for anti-poaching patrols. Her zeal might have been the reason for her murder in 1985. This was the last entry in her diary: "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 Karisoke Research Center she founded in 1967 is now operated by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and continues the work she started. Dian Fossey is believed to have been autistic in Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes by Jennifer Elder. Read more about this amazing researcher and her pioneering work on her Wikipedia page.