We talk about the Dian Fossey fund a lot here on the Gorilla Blog, but if you’ve ever been curious about what the fund actually does, let’s dive right in.
The fund is focused on education, health and livelihoods first and foremost. According to their website, “The Fossey Fund’s environmental education activities are diverse and designed to reach students of different age groups, helping to build awareness, assist local educational institutions, and provide further training for those already working in conservation and education.”
They accomplish the education side by working directly in schools providing supplies for over 2,000 elementary school students to aid in things like learning materials, courses and teacher training. “We also lead teacher-training programs that help equip school teachers to provide conservation education even more widely.” They continue.
The program they provide for schools in Rwanda is called Citizen Science and “It includes environmental clubs, class work and lectures on the scientific process, creating school gardens, and actual field research design and data collection, as well as data entry and preliminary analysis.” For each year, the students in Citizen Science are assigned a different conservation research topic like butterflies, climate change or butterflies!
It wouldn’t be a conservation effort from the Dian Fossey fund if it didn’t have to do with gorillas. The website also focuses on this stating, “In Rwanda, this is important because human population density is very high and very close to the protected areas where the gorillas live. In Congo, people still are dependent on the forest for food and other basic needs. By working together, communities can become more aware and able to participate in critical conservation efforts.”
These efforts include trips for community leaders to see gorillas in places like Volcanoes National park. They undergo workshops about gorillas and conservation during this time as well. In addition to this, they show conservation related movies in local villages with audiences of up to 4,000 people each year!
The fund involves improving the lives of people in the community as well. “The communities located near gorilla habitat often are impoverished and face many challenges in their daily lives, such as limited food resources and lack of access to health care and clean water. When people have to focus on basic survival, this puts additional pressure on the environment, such as using the forests for hunting, firewood, water, or crop land.”
To deal with food scarcity, they operate a program that increases the awareness of food alternatives through growing crops that have a high nutritional value. “Our community health programs seek to create a healthy environment for both people and gorillas by working with local communities to develop access to health care and clean water and by providing education about disease prevention and the significance of endangered species. Our work in these areas has included intestinal parasite testing treatment for thousands of people, hygiene education, clean water access, and education programs.”
Expanding the area to make the most of it is one of the fund’s goal’s too, “For many years, the Fossey Fund and its donors also have supported a local school and health clinic in the village of Bisate. This includes building a new classroom block; installing electricity, latrines and water access; and building two new buildings at the health clinic, including a maternity ward at in memory of long-time volunteer physician Dr. Mary Horder. The ward is the first of its kind in the village and allows for both prenatal and postnatal health services in an area separated from sick patients.”
So how can you support this amazing fund and the work they continue to do to make the world a better place?
Buy a pair of Gorilla Socks! They’re comfy, cool and well made. 10% of your cool and fun purchase will go to the Dian Fossey Fund.
If you care about any of the issues that the fund helps with, then your purchase will be well worth it.