The story of wildlife biologist Diane Fossey is nothing if not controversial. Lauded for her pioneering research on the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and her heroic struggles to save the gorillas, she is nonetheless vilified for her harsh and at times cruel treatment of the people who lived in the area and the researchers she worked with. These links provide insight into Fossey’s life and work.


  • Written a year after Fossey was brutally murdered in her Rwanda camp, “The Fatal Obsession of Dian Fossey,” by Alex Shoumatoff, (Vanity Fair, September 1986) “reveals the intriguing psychological profile of the lonely woman who loved gorillas more than her fellow man.”


  • In this brief clip from the PBS series Nature, David Attenborough talks about his visit to Fossey’s camp in the mountains of Rwanda, and her contribution to saving the mountain gorillas. 


  • In 1988, just two years after Fossey’s murder, Hollywood popularized her story in the movie based on her book Gorillas in the Mist.  Directed by Michael Apted and starring Sigourney Weaver, the film garnered numerous industry awards.


Virunga Park, Mountain Gorillas and Conservation

The plight of the Virunga mountain region in Central Africa—which spans Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda—continues to be an international concern. Bloody civil wars, genocide, and corporate greed are the culprits threatening the mountain gorillas and their habitat in the region since Fossey was murdered in her camp in 1985.  

  • The Gorilla King: This full length episode of “Nature”, which aired 4/20/2008, explores the life of Titus, a silverback gorilla in Rwanda’s mountain jungle. “Among the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, Titus reigns as king. In the decades that followed his birth in 1974, Titus was orphaned and abandoned, survived poachers, and overcame the deadly challenges of his rivals. Researchers and conservationists recount his triumphant story as they share their memories and archival footage of Titus, from his days as a newborn to his rise to power as a silverback.



  • This PBS NewsHour story from 2015, “Protecting Virunga Park and seeing Congo’s rich potential,” gives a current view of conservation efforts in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, adjacent to the area in Rwanda where Fossey worked.


  • The 2014 documentary Virunga tells the story of a group of rangers working to protect the park from threats of civil war, poachers and oil exploration. Virunga National Park in Eastern Congo is the spectacular home to the endangered mountain gorillas and many other types of wildlife. This extraordinary film  can be viewed on Netflix.