The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is located in Kinigi near the headquarters of Volcanoes National Park. The official opening to the public which took place in February 2022 unveiled the state-of-the-art permanent facility including scientific living laboratories and libraries, indoor and outdoor classrooms and interactive exhibits.
All of that represents the advances in science-based research needed to conserve the mountain gorillas in Africa. This has transformed and made powerful the old-fashioned Karisoke Research Center, which was established by Dian Fossey on 24th September 1967.
Though Fossey wasn’t the first scientist to study the ecology and behaviour of gorillas, she’s credited for being the first to introduce the idea of habituating wild gorillas which became the foundation for future gorilla trekking safaris. However, note the work it took her to live in a cabin set in the jungles between Karisimbi and Bisoke volcanoes and standing fearless to fight against poachers technically carrying out anti-poaching patrols that stirred envy and eventually led to her murder in 1985.
Having beforehand published her research “Gorillas in the Mist”, Fossey became a hero for many people with the 1988 movie based on that very book detailing her life to save gorillas from the threat of extinction. In particular, Ellen DeGeneres, an American TV show host was touched by the story too.
Through the Ellen Wildlife Fund, she wanted to build the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in honour of Fossey. Built to last longer and benefit the local people in understanding how to protect the ecosystem and conserve gorillas through supporting research and education. In this regard, the campus is an important resource and centre for obtaining knowledge and understanding the conservation of gorillas for future generations in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It’s open to the public, visitors, wildlife scientists, students, environmentalists, and conservation biologists. A wide range of interactive activities is available at the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund including live theatre named after Leonard DiCaprio, a computer lab, a library, exhibitions and tree planting. The most spectacular is a living laboratory that shows over 250000 native plant species, and Rwandan arts and crafts that were used to build the facility in a way that blends with the natural environment around Volcanoes National Park.
The campus also sets forth Rwanda as one of the emerging eco-tourism destinations in Africa. Those intending to visit should understand that tourism policy takes serious conservation and protection of the environment. For instance, don’t bring single-use plastics and refrain from littering whilst travelling in Rwanda. The government has made strides to inspire citizens to become good stewards of sustainable development whilst keeping peace and reconciliation and recovering from the horrific genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. Not forgetting the wildlife restoration in Akagera National Park, now home to Big Five mammals – Lions, leopards, black rhinos, elephants and buffaloes among other wildlife that thrive in the only savanna park in Rwanda. The Gishwati Mukura National Park also has seen the restoration of degraded tropical forests thus protecting biodiversity – the reasons that the Ellen campus takes into account along with the conservation of gorillas.
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