Located in the volcanoes National park’s northwest part of Rwanda’s leading national park, the Karisoke research center is situated in the middle of mount bisoke and mount Karisimbi and that where its name originated “kari-soke” which is a combination of the two names.
Karisoke research center is among the leading attractions in Rwanda’s volcanoes national park because it is another living memories of Dian Fossey an American primatologist and conservationist who became famous for undertaking studies and research about mountain gorillas and advocating for their protection.
The center was formed on the 24th September in 1967 by Dian Fossey. It was started with only two small tents which were the headquarters for anti-pouching patrols. Today, it has improved into a world class scientific and conservation institution where long term studies about gorillas are conducted and it goes on to educate about gorillas and plays a big role in protection of the great primates.
Aiming at stopping or reading poaching and other related illegal activities which threat and interfere with the life and behavior of the mountain gorillas, the Karisoke research center conducts patrols around the volcanoes national park as result, the protection of the gorillas has improved and led to the increase in the population of the region.
People around and close to the Virunga region illegally access the parks and set traps targeting mammals for food but sometimes it is the gorillas that incidentally fall into these traps and also carryout other illegally activities including encroaching on the land of the park, cutting down trees in the park, collecting firewood and all these put the lives of the gorillas at a high risk.
In conjunction with the Dian Fossey fund international, the Karisoke research center come together with the democratic republic of Congo and Uganda to protect the mountain gorillas with joint independent patrols and protect the gorillas in the area.
Karisoke research center gathers relevant information around the area which helps in conservation of the gorillas through data collected, which is encompassed with behavioral data, health and demographic.
A visit to Karisoke research center in Rwanda is among the top things you can do at volcanoes national park. There is a museum with exhibits much more data in matters concerning conservation, videos and biology about the protocol of the gorillas.
Dian Fossey is believed to have stayed in the tents that the center begun with for close to a year and half just before her friends built for her a cabin and 8 more cabin tents have were setup by ten years in existence and Dian Fossey after a certain time invited Dr.Leaky to send her students that is in 1969 and this created even for students worldwide to experience the field and have a chance for research.
In the times of the 1994 Rwanda genocide and other civil wars, different things from the research center were destroyed, stolen and were abandoned.
There was a reconstruction but was destroyed again and the solution was to shift to Ruhengeri.
Due to Dian Fossey’s fear of extinction by the 20th century, she got involved in the protecting and conserving the mountain gorillas.
Dian Fossey was murdered in 1985 by unknown assistants who left her remains near her cabin, her efforts to conserve led to conservation organization to involve themselves in protection and conservation of the endangered mountain gorillas after her death and the work is ongoing up to date.
As of now, the center uses advanced technology to conduct various activities patterning with the conservation organizations and local authorities to strengthen the protection and conservation work of these gorillas.
The center started using GPS to monitor the movement of gorilla groups but the mapping of gorillas’ habitat in the park was done using hyper spectral remote sensing imagery.
Karisoke research center habituated the golden monkeys in the park and works with the University of Rwanda and provides field research opportunities for research purposes.
It is just located in volcanoes national park, it takes only 2 hours to get to the research center using the Rwandan roads from Kigali international airport.