Rwandan to head gorilla research body

MUSANZE– Karisoke Research Centre, a research and conservation programme for Mountain Gorillas and other species in Volcanoes National Park, has appointed Felix Ndagijimana, as its new director, replacing Katie Fawcett.  Felix Ndagijimana, who has since 2008 served as deputy director of the centre, a programme under the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, becomes the first Rwandan to assume the office. 

MUSANZE– Karisoke Research Centre, a research and conservation programme for Mountain Gorillas and other species in Volcanoes National Park, has appointed Felix Ndagijimana, as its new director, replacing Katie Fawcett. 

Felix Ndagijimana, who has since 2008 served as deputy director of the centre, a programme under the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, becomes the first Rwandan to assume the office. 

According to a press release from Karisoke, Ndagijimana will oversee research activities on Mountain Gorillas and other species in the Volcanoes National Park, as well as the centre’s health and education programmes targeting communities surrounding the park, and administering the centre’s staff, including trackers, anti-poaching personnel and research assistants. 

“We are very pleased to appoint Felix as director of Karisoke,” noted Clare Richardson, president and CEO of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

“With years of experience in the field, he has become an expert on the mountain gorillas and their habitat, and has proven to be a successful leader of all the staff and programmes that we operate at Karisoke.” 

The appointment fell on an historic date.  January 16, 2012, would have been the 80th birthday of Dr. Dian Fossey, who founded the Karisoke Research Centre in 1967.

 Ndagijimana holds a Bachelors of Science degree in microbiology from the University of Mysore, India, and Master’s degree in Primate Conservation from Oxford Brookes University in the UK. 

He represented the Dian Fossey Fund at numerous regional and international conservation events, including International Primatological Society Congress meetings in Uganda and Scotland; the 2010 Poverty and Conservation Learning Group workshop; and the annual Kwita Izina gorilla-naming ceremonies in Kinigi, Musanze District.  

“I am greatly honoured to be chosen for this important role,” said Ndagijimana. “I look forward to leading the dedicated team of trackers, scientists, and administrative personnel at Karisoke in continuing the legacy of Dian Fossey, and our leadership in gorilla conservation.” 

Founded by Dr. Dian Fossey as the Digit Fund and renamed after her death, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is dedicated to the conservation and protection of gorillas and their habitats in Africa.

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