The document that I chose was a letter from Dian Fossey to the DeVore Family, July 7, 1976. In the letter Fossey thanks the DeVore Family for their hospitality and allowing her to meet with some of their students at Cambridge University. Fossey also gives an update about the current situation going on at Kabara and how shocked she was when she returned about the current state of things. Fossey begins the letter by informing the DeVore family that she is trying to keep up with recounts and census work of the gorillas of Mt. Mikeno. Fossey says that the journey to Mt. Mikeno , “Is a beautiful ‘walk’ through rolling forested saddle terrain ranging from 10,000 to 11,000’ in altitude.” Fossey says, “in the past it used to be filled with elephant, buffalo, duiker, bush buck, and gorilla plus poachers.” However, Fossey says, “The elephant are depleted because the Africans have been poisoning them at the water holes.” Fossey shows the impact that this change has had on the topography, “The lack of elephant has resulted in an entirely different topography, including no trails.”
The impact that the poachers have had on the region has been significant. Fossey says that “On the way we did encounter poacher sites—when the poachers go this far into the forest to kill buffalo mainly, they make temporary ‘huts’ under the huge trunks of Hagenia tress where they store their fire-wood, corn and ‘tomato plants’.” Fossey encountered six such sites just along her route to Mt. Mikeno which only paints the picture of the larger number there probably are on the rest of the mountain. Fossey goes on to say, “In many ways Kabara has lost much of its magic- in two days we cut own 58 traps adjacent to the Kabara meadow. These were traps set for hyrax and duiker or bush-buck and were made by the guards and their helpers. Fossey mentions the amount of corruption that goes on in the park alone, “That park gets so much money and remains so totally corrupt. The guards make their ‘patrols’ every 9 to 10 days to check on the cabins only; whilst they are there they put out more traps and collect more skins and meat.”
Although Fossey mentions that the gorilla population is doing well with the three main groups looking stabilized with a good birth rate she still worries about their safety. Although the guards wouldn’t touch the gorillas for fear of her wrath the traps set up for other animals are right along gorilla routes. Fossey does her best to get the word out in the letter she pleads the DeVore Family to contact Schaller and let him know that, “There isn’t a duiker or an elephant to be found around Kabara.”
I think that although Dian Fossey a lot to bring about awareness to the issue of poachers she didn’t handle the situation the best way that she could. Instead of creating tense ties with the locals like Fossey did it is important to educate them and show them alternative ways of hunting and getting food that doesn’t harm the wildlife. Maybe working with wildlife organizations, local and national governments, and the UN to establish economic and food support to provide alternative food options other than bush meat. Showing the local populations the harm that comes from poaching animals and educate them so that they might also find a passion in protecting them. Something else than Dian Fossey failed to do is to let outsiders come in a look at “her” gorillas. By encouraging Eco Tourism and by allowing wildlife organization members to come to her camp and study with her and see the gorillas it would inspire more people to get involved and donate.
Source for Document: Dian Fossey Archives, Folder: MS 596 Box 13, DF Bio, 1976 July-Dec.