Cradling the northwest border of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is a treasure trove of natural splendor in the volcanic Virunga Mountains. Lush tropical forests climb misty peaks, providing the ideal habitat for a diverse array of wildlife that includes golden monkeys, spotted hyenas, buffalo, elephants, antelopes, dozens of species of birds and, of course, the critically endangered yet widely revered mountain gorillas.
With 11 million people living in Rwanda to the gorilla population’s mere 300, it’s no wonder that the great ape’s mystery and intrigue reaches far beyond the African continent. It’s also no surprise that humans are both the magnificent mammals’ biggest threat and their greatest hope for long-term survival.
Dian Fossey’s Lasting Legacy
Poaching, deforestation, civil war and human diseases as mild as the common cold have all threatened the gorilla population over the past several decades. When American primatologist Dian Fossey started her research in the Congo in 1967, she left an incredible legacy with her unwavering conservation and protection efforts, leading to greater awareness about mountain gorillas’ risk of extinction. Today, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has helped the Rwandan gorilla community grow to 300—with a total of about 880 wild mountain gorillas thriving worldwide, representing an increase that is far from insignificant.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is a thrilling experience that not only transforms the lives of those fortunate enough to participate, but also supports ongoing preservation of the majestic creatures with whom we share 98% of our DNA.