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Dian Fossey: Gave her life for the conservation of rare mountain gorillas

Dian Fossey was a National Geographic Explorer who devoted 20 years of her life -- and may have indeed forfeited her life -- to the conservation of Africa's rare and endangered mountain gorillas.  Inspired by Jane Goodall and Louis Leakey, Fossey observed at close quarters the mountain gorillas of Rwanda's Virunga Mountains from 1966 until she was murdered in 1985. Her death remains a mystery, but it was suspected that it might have been the work of gorilla poachers. She was buried in the mountains, alongside several gorillas killed by poachers....

Dian Fossey was a National Geographic Explorer who devoted 20 years of her life — and may have indeed forfeited her life — to the conservation of Africa’s rare and endangered mountain gorillas.  Inspired by Jane Goodall and Louis Leakey, Fossey observed at close quarters the mountain gorillas of Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains from 1966 until she was murdered in 1985. Her death remains a mystery, but it was suspected that it might have been the work of gorilla poachers. She was buried in the mountains, alongside the remains of several gorillas killed by poachers.

January 1970 National Geographic Magazine feature: Making Friends With Mountain Gorillas

A book Fossey wrote about her work, Gorillas in the Mist (published in 1983), was adapted into a 1988 movie of the same name, starring Sigourney Weaver. In December 2017, Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist, a three-hour series, aired on the National Geographic Channel. Find out more.

Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist | National Geographic
Mountain Gorillas’ Survival: Dian Fossey’s Legacy Lives On | Short Film Showcase
How One Orphaned Gorilla Inspired Her to Save Hundreds More | National Geographic

For more information on Dian Fossey and other National Geographic explorers, dig through our timeline here.

Top image photograph by Robert I.M. Campbell

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Meet the Author

David Max Braun
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn