Karisoke Research Center
The Karisoke research center is located in volcanoes national park in Rwanda, the name is derived from two mountain ranges of volcanoes national park mount Karasimbi and mount Bisoke the research center is situated in the middle of these two volcanic ranges.
Karisoke research center was established by Dian Fossey on the 24th of August 1967, it started up as a small patrol center with two tents against poaching. Today Karisoke research center provides protection, education and long term studies of mountain gorillas.
The protection of the endangered mountain gorillas has led to the increase of their population; the research center is always patrolling the volcanoes areas to combat poaching and illegal activities that can interfere with gorillas and their habitat.
Visiting the Karisoke research center is very interesting you can stand at the site where Dian Fossey was buried the center has got a small museum with exhibits offering insights to conservation, biology, videos about customs of mountain gorillas and so much more.
The Karisoke mountain gorillas living around the Virunga ranges number up to 480 listed by IUCN as critically endangered, the locals living within the national park set traps for Ungulates which sometimes end up trapping gorillas, fetching firewood, cutting of trees, clearing land and lots of other illegal activities are threats to mountain gorillas.
The Karisoke research center together with the Fossey fund international provide daily protection to the remaining mountain gorillas and also combines with Uganda and Congo for joint and independent patrols. The center also collects behavioral, demographic, health data that helps in daily conservation of this great apes.
Its said that Dian Fossey lived in the tents for a period of one year and half until she allowed her European friends to build her a cabin and more eight were set up after a period of ten years. Dian Fossey invited Dr leaky to send her students for assistance in 1969 this later on formed a ground for students all over the world to experience the field and opportunism for research.
It was very challenging in the 1990s for the research institute during the genocide and civil wars, things were evacuated many things were looted and destroyed. By 1998 the center was reconstructed two times, evacuated five times and destroyed three times then relocated to Ruhengeri. Many family members of trackers were killed.
Karisoke has now adapted to modern technology and partnering with local authorities and other conservation organizations, The Rwandan patriotic front took records of Karisoke research center but later returned them intact and safe in 1993.
In 1993 the research center established a research a GPS to monitor the movement of gorilla groups and also used hyper spectral remote sensing imagery to undertake the mapping of gorilla habitat in Rwanda they also initiated programs to support the local communities.
The Karisoke research center also habituated golden monkeys and work with University of Rwanda providing filed research opportunities for research purposes. The center was later on shifted to a multi purpose building in Musanze which is now a new regional center for the Dian Fossey gorilla fund.
Even after the murder of Dian Fossey in 1985 the research center is still functioning. Her main aim for conservation was the fear that the mountain gorillas would be extinct by the 20thcentury.
Dian Fossey the founder of the research center was born on January 1932 in Francisco, she spent her first life time savings on her first trip to Africa.
Exploring the Karisoke research center is one of the things you should do while visiting Rwanda, tourists can do gorilla trekking and wildlife watching in the country.
The best time to visit Rwanda is during the dry season when the roads are accessible and the walking trails for gorilla trekking are in good condition.
Karisoke research center can be reached within 2 hours drive from Kigali international airport.