The Karisoke research center, situated in the heart of Rwanda’s premier national park, Volcanoes National Park, is located in the northwest region, nestled between Mount Bisoke and Mount Karisimbi. Its name, ‘Karisoke,’ is a fusion of these two mountain names.
Karisoke Research Center is among the leading attractions in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park because it is another living memory of Dian Fossey an American primatologist and conservationist who became famous for undertaking studies and research about mountain gorillas and advocating for their protection.
Dian Fossey established the center on September 24, 1967. Initially, it comprised only two small tents, serving as the headquarters for anti-poaching patrols. Over time, it has evolved into a globally recognized scientific and conservation institution, dedicated to conducting long-term studies on gorillas, educating about these primates, and actively contributing to their protection.
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 carry out other illegal 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 high risk.
In conjunction with the Dian Fossey Fund International, the Karisoke Research Center came 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.
The Karisoke Research Center plays a crucial role in gorilla conservation by gathering pertinent data in the area, encompassing behavioral, health, and demographic information.
Visiting the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda is a must-do activity at Volcanoes National Park. The center boasts a museum with exhibits, videos, and extensive data on conservation protocols and gorilla biology.
Dian Fossey, who dedicated herself to conserving mountain gorillas, initially stayed in tents at the center for nearly a year and a half. Later, her colleagues built a cabin for her, and eight more cabin tents were set up over a decade. In 1969, Dian Fossey invited Dr. Leakey to send his students to study with her, offering a valuable opportunity for research in the field.
Fearing the possible extinction of gorillas by the 20th century, Dian Fossey fervently dedicated herself to protecting and conserving these majestic creatures.
Tragically, in 1985, Dian Fossey was murdered by unknown assailants, who left her remains near her cabin. Her legacy lives on, as her tireless efforts inspired conservation organizations to continue her work in safeguarding the endangered mountain gorillas. This vital work remains ongoing to this day.
Today, the center employs cutting-edge technology and collaborates closely with conservation organizations and local authorities to fortify the protection and conservation efforts for these gorillas.
Karisoke Research Center habituated the golden monkeys in the park works with the University of Rwanda and provides field research opportunities for research purposes.
It is located in Volcanoes National Park, it takes only 2 hours to get to the research center using the Rwandan roads from Kigali International Airport.