Anew museum that will exhibit the entire story about mountain gorillas in Rwanda has been opened in Musanze.
The new reopened museum is named as Karisoke exhibit and this is a branch child of the Karisoke research center which managed by the Dian Fossey gorilla fund international (DFGFI) which is an international gorillas conservation organization.
The establishment of DFGFI was to carry on the legacy and great memory left by an American zoologist, primatologist and anthropologist Dian Fosse who is remembered for her great work of studying and protecting mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
Karisoke research center was founded in 1967 to study the endangered mountain gorillas. The place was a rain forested camp and it was built between mount Karisimbi and mount Bisoke. Therefore its name Karisoke attributes to its unique location.
Dian Fossey was very known to most of the locals as Nyiramacibiri which was Kinyarwanda name meaning a woman who lives alone on the mountain.
Currently, the center plays an essential part in mountain gorilla conservation efforts in coalition with other stakeholders.
Karisoke research center has survived sine Fossey’s death in 1985, and the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. During the genocide, it was demolished three times before government finally relocated it to present-day site in Musanze town, just opposite the Musanze Pension Plaza.
It therefore from points that Dian Fossey’s conservation efforts and legacy remains to prosper.
It was on Friday evening during the official launch to open gorilla museum in Musanze when a number of guests were led into the forest for a guided tour which comprised of three parts.
The first part was known as gorilla room and it comprised of two huge exhibits, the male human Skeleton and he male gorilla Skeleton. These were being displayed in the first room.
In this room, it is where the genetic relationships between man and gorillas are explained. You will learn about the differences in physical build between gorilla and man, and between male and female gorilla. Displays and records on the walls further give details on the life history of the mountain gorilla, life expectancy, reproduction, and infant mortality.
In the corner of the room, there is a wall of fame where names of gorillas that were killed by the poachers over a number of past years are being written on the wall together with theirs years of life time and the years when they were being killed.
The second part is the Dian Fossey room which has all information relating to her gorilla conservation efforts ,the field notes, book excerpts, field photographs, newspaper printouts and many more others. Here guests are allowed to read through all the documents kept within the room.
The second room has the biggest attraction; there is a small store of personal properties recovered from Fossey’s original site –an old and rustic office table and chairs, a large traditional drum, and a small book shelf –which were all in her private chalet.
The third room is known as The Virtual Virunga. In it is a giant three-dimensional meditation of mountain gorillas stretching from data, satellite imagery and topographic map, projected electronically through a bed of sand.
Somewhere else in another different rooms there are displays illustrating the threats to Rwanda’s mountain gorillas, and beekeeping is one the threats that mountain gorillas used to face in the park.
However ones entrance is prohibited without proper permit and unfettered beekeeping within park boundaries is still an even illegal happening. The traditional method of honey collection involves using fire to chase bees from their hives. Often the fire scathes nearby trees and other vegetation hence destroying gorilla habitats.
In the second corner, you will see displays of different animal species that are found in the volcanoes national park.
The Dian Fossey Fund emphases on two major subspecies of gorillas in Rwanda and the DRC –the mountain gorilla and the Grauer’s gorilla. Mountain gorillas are boundless to two populations; the Virunga population projected at about 480 individuals, and the Bwindi population projected at 380 individuals. Regardless of these small numbers, the mountain gorilla is the great ape and the population in increasing slowly. They are the major researched about ape’s species.
The Director for Karisoke Research Center Felix Ndagijimana officially opened the Karisoke Research Center exhibit and the place is open to tourists and local spectators o visit the exhibit and get information on gorillas and conservation like what Dian Fossey had done.
The exhibit opens from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm weekly days.
Tara Stoinski, President and CEO of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International also come from Atlanta US to attend the function.
She explained that “It’s a great honor for us to be part of the event and to be able to have this exhibit to inform people more about gorilla conservation, not only about the work that we do, but also other important conservation initiatives happening in the Volcanoes National Park,” she explained.
As she was giving her remarks she said that this is the 50th anniversary working here in Rwanda. Dian Fossey came here in 1967 to study the gorillas, so next September will be 50 years since she established Karisoke, and we’re very proud to have that kind of history here in Rwanda.
It is now fifteen years since we started working in the DRC, trying to help Grauer’s gorillas which have now been listed as critically endangered.”
Its only DRC AND Rwanda where conservation programs the fund runs on the region. The two setups work with a local staff of 150 enthusiastic employees; 115 of them in Rwanda and 35 in the DRC –a clear pointer to the organization’s larger presence in Rwanda.
The fund also maintains a skeletal team in Atlanta, US that handles its communications and fund raising.
Tara said that they are mainly concentrating on four areas, one is protection-working with partners in the Rwandan government to provide daily protection to the gorillas, and the second emphasis is science –we’re very dedicated to doing science both on the gorillas and also the bio diversity in the park, and we hope that this science can play an important role in determining how we conserve these animals.
The other two areas were we emphasis on training of young African scientists. We have a partnership with the University of Rwanda where we bring Biology students here at Karisoke and teach them classes on conservation, field methodology and bio diversity, and we also support students to do their thesis work which they need to graduate,” Tara further explained.
“The last thing we focus on is working with local communities. For conservation to work it’s important that local communities understand the need for conservation, and also the value of the gorillas and their habitat. We do a lot of work with primary and secondary schools around the park, we work with some of the adult communities showing them conservation movies and bringing local leaders into the park, and we also work on some of the health and livelihood issues.”