Clare’s Update on Saving Gorillas in 2013

Saving gorillas from extinction is an incredibly enormous and complex task, and it is difficult not to be overwhelmed by the responsibility we have undertaken, as stated by our founder Dr. Dian Fossey in 1967. Yet, as I look back at the year just ending, I am so proud to be able to say that our core monitoring and protection efforts now successfully span some 46 years. We continue to adapt to changing (and challenging) circumstances and to find new ways to address the many threats to the gorillas’ survival. The gorillas are enduring and so are we.

Luckily, we have never been in this alone. First, we have you – our loyal and generous supporters – always at our backs. In addition, our efforts are strengthened by our partnerships with other important organizations, from universities to zoos to major corporations. And then we have local people on the ground where we work in Africa, scientists around the world, and our strong, courageous staff, each working every day toward our mission of saving gorillas.

With all of this support, we are able to take a “holistic” approach to save gorillas, focusing on all the potential threats to their survival, even as they change from year to year. For example, in recent years the gorilla groups we monitor have been changing, in terms of their numbers, their ranges, and their behaviors. This has led to the need for more trackers to cover new groups and wider ranges, as well as for more study on the gorillas and their surroundings. In fact, in 2013 we monitored and documented a dramatic increase in the number of interactions among gorilla groups.

Our steadily growing scientific studies are addressing the details in all of these areas, and as they are published in scientific journals around the world, are also available to all those who face critical conservation management decisions. We continue to adopt new technologies to our work, such as moving toward collecting data electronically and using remote camera setups to record events in the forest. In addition to our long-term work in Rwanda, we are now collecting exciting new data on the little-studied Grauer’s gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Yet, even with all this progress, 2013 was not an easy year. We were recovering from sad events in 2012 (when one of our anti-poaching camps was attacked and one of our rangers killed) and faced significant budgetary challenges. And here is where you make all the difference: your gifts directly determine whether we can do more than our core mission of protecting gorillas, whether we can continue looking for the best ways to save them, through our holistic approaches, our best scientific endeavors, and whatever else it takes to succeed.

We want to thank you for your commitment as we all carry on with this crucial mission. The enduring nature of our supporters, many of whom have been with us for more than 25 years, is matched only by the longevity and commitment of our key African staff. We hope you will continue keeping up with us, through our monthly e-news, our Facebook page, and our website.

Wishing you all the best, happy holidays and a good New Year,

Clare Richardson

President and Chief Executive Officer
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
800 Cherokee Avenue, S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30315-1440 USA
Phone: (800) 851-0203
Facebook: SavingGorillas
Twitter: @SavingGorillas