In 1989, the Digit Fund UK opened in London to support the American based Digit Fund, established by the pioneering primatologist Dr Dian Fossey.
In September of 1992, the Fund was renamed the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Europe (DFGF-E) to mark the 25th anniversary of the Karisoke Research Centre where Dian’s work had been based.
Whilst Dian would have been too modest to name the Fund after herself, many who admired her work expressed their appreciation of the new name, and the Fund continued to support the anti-poaching patrols that Dian had started.
Exponential population growth affected Africa in the early 90s, as it did in the rest of the world and, increasingly, the precious gorilla habitat was threatened by the surrounding populations. With nowhere else to turn for basic resources, communities were forced into the national park to collect what they needed to survive.
In 1996, and in response to these changing threats, local DFGF-E staff carried out surveys throughout the local communities, and identified the main reasons for people encroaching on the gorilla habitat. These community conversations built relationships with the local people, which would prove invaluable to the gorillas’ future, and formed what would become the foundations of the Gorilla Organization's unique approach to gorilla conservation.
From here on in, the organisation funded the projects of local African NGOs that would improve the lives of communities bordering the gorilla national parks and lessen their dependency on the gorillas’ precious home – community conservation was here to stay and would dramatically improve the gorillas chance of long-term survival.
Word of this unique community conservation programme started to spread throughout central Africa and before long there were cries for help coming from other gorilla habitats less associated with Dian Fossey. In October 2006 the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Europe changed its name to the Gorilla Organization to reflect its work with all sub-species of gorilla throughout Africa. Dian Fossy paved the way for the Gorilla Organization and will always be an inspiration to the organisation’s staff and projects. But as other sub-species of gorillas face the threats of modern life, the Gorilla Organization endeavoured to take the energy and enthusiasm that Dian showed to the Mountain gorillas all those years ago to the rest of the world’s gorilla populations.
Find out more about the Gorilla Organization’s projects