Dian Fossey Gorilla museum in Musanze
Exploring the history of Rwanda’s mountain gorilla conservation success is now easier with a newly established Gorilla Museum in Musanze, Rwanda. This mighty museum is 2 and a half hours’ drive from the main capital of Rwanda Kigali to the main tourism hub town Musanze.
The gorilla museum is a new exhibit that looks at communicating the facts about Rwanda’s Mountain gorilla protection success to the world. It is popular as the “Karisoke Exhibit”; it came into scene due to the Karisoke Research Center that is operated by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI), an international gorilla conservation organization.
What to expect at the Dian Fossey museum in Musanze
- The gorilla room with 2 massive exhibits; one of which is for a male human skeleton and the other is for a male gorilla. While at the gorilla room, the genetic relationships between man and Ape are well described. Visitors get acquainted with the distinctions in the physical build between the mountain gorilla and man and between male and female gorilla. There are also exhibits and notes on the walls that further describe the life history of the critically endangered mountain gorillas, reproduction, life expectancy, and infant mortality.
- The other corner of the room straddles a wall of fame. This is where visitors can get to know the names of mountain gorillas that were killed by poachers in the previous years as they are pinned on the wall each with the year of life and death. Some of which include Marchesa (1942-1980), Unce Bert (1952-1978), Effie (1961 to 1994), Macho (1961-1971), Kweli (1975-1978), and Digit (1965-1977).
- The next room is the Dian Fossey room, where you can find all the details about her gorilla conservation attempts, field notes, field photographs, book excerpts, and newspaper printouts among others. However, the largest attraction in the room is the small cache of personal belonging that was got from Dian Fossey’s first site, an ancient and simple office table and chairs, a big traditional drum, and a small shelf that was all in her private cabin.
- The 3rd room is known as the Virtual Virunga. Inside it, there is a massive 3-dimensional visualization of mountain gorillas ranging from data, satellite imagery, and photographic map-projected electronically via a bed of sand. In other rooms, there are exhibits that reflect the threats to Rwanda’s mountain gorillas one of which is beekeeping around the Volcanoes National Park boundaries.
- In another corner, visitors can sight exhibits of other wildlife species in the Volcanoes National Park. Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund focuses its activities on the 2 main subspecies of gorillas in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This includes the rare mountain gorillas and the Eastern Lowland gorillas. The mountain gorillas are only limited to 2 populations, the Virunga population which inhabits approximately 480 members and the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park protects about 400 members. Though they have the smallest population, the mountain gorillas are the only subspecies of large primates whose number keeps escalating slowly and not forgetting that they are the most sought after creatures not only for research but also for tourism purposes. Visiting the gorilla museum starts from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm weekdays!
About the Karisoke research center
The Karisoke Research Center has spent about 50 years while working on conserving gorillas in Rwanda. Dian Fossey started her gorilla research journey in 1967 and recently, the 50th anniversary was celebrated to mark the 50 years since she set up Karisoke Research Center. Today, this research work at Karisoke has extended its duties to the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to help the Eastern Lowland gorillas (Grauer’s gorillas) that have also been listed as a critically endangered species.
Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the only conservation programs that the Gorilla Fund facilitates in Africa. The 2 operations work with a local staff of about 150 committed employees, 115 of them in Rwanda, and 35 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The gorilla fund also helps to keep the skeleton team in Atlanta, the US which handles its communication and fundraising. The main focus of the Dian Fossey Fund and the Karisoke Research Center is dependent on 4 areas; protection of the gorillas through partnerships with the government, secondly, science both on the gorillas and another biodiversity in the national park.
Thirdly, they also focus on training young African scientists through partnerships with the University of Rwanda where biology students are invited to Karisoke Research Center for conservation lessons, field methodology, and biodiversity. Lastly, the local communities are also considered vital when it comes to gorilla conservation that is why it is crucial for them to also know about the conservation and value of the gorillas and the habitats.
The gorilla museum is important conservation progress in Rwanda that offers opportunities for travelers to explore the history of gorilla conservation success and the team is doing its best to ensure that these endangered species are well protected. The museum consists of 3 sections where gorilla exhibits are kept and this offers visitors a chance to understand the gorilla life expectancy, reproduction (genetic relationships between humans and gorillas), the continued threat to gorilla survival in the jungles of Rwanda among others.
When to visit the Gorilla museum
The museum is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm and travelers can visit any time of the day but we recommend visiting after lunch when traveling from Kigali to volcanoes national park at the start of your safari.
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