The first person to identify the mountain gorilla was Captain Robert von Beringe while on an expedition to establish the boundaries of the then German colonies in East Africa. After shooting two of the large apes, one was captured and sent to a museum in Germany. It was here that a new gorilla species was discovered. It was named Gorilla beringei after the captain Robert. In the following decades, several researchers took interest in studying this new species including George Schaller in 1959 and Dian Fossey in 1967. Fossey took Mountain gorilla research to an unprecedented level and is credited for discovering new ways of habituating mountain gorillas like mimicking their sounds and gaining the trust of the dominant male silverback. She organized the first gorilla census and changed from focusing solely on research to gorilla conservation hence bringing to the attention of the world the plight of the gorillas. Dian Fossey and Mountain GorillasDian Fossey divided gorilla conservation into three areas – Active, theoretical and community-based. Under active conservation, she suggested the need to proactively enforce laws that were against poaching including destroying poacher equipment, carrying out animal censuses. Theoretical conservation would require improving the infrastructure around gorilla habitats including renovating park offices, lodges and habituating gorilla families to encourage tourism. The final approach to gorilla conservation is the community based conservation approach where communities are involved and their interests taken into consideration. Fossey actively fought against poachers by sabotaging their operations and starting park patrols. Her brutal murder is believed to have been a result of her hard line against poachers. Her work continues to this day through what is now known as the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
Dian Fossey`s research on Mountain gorillas