Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-ttngx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-26T10:28:15.832Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

1 - Mountain gorillas of the Virungas: a short history

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2010

Martha M. Robbins
Affiliation:
Max-Planck-Institut für Evolutionäre Anthropologie, Germany
Pascale Sicotte
Affiliation:
University of Calgary
Kelly J. Stewart
Affiliation:
University of California, Davis
Get access

Summary

Introduction

In January 1999, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology hosted a conference in Leipzig, to celebrate more than three decades of research on wild mountain gorillas at the Karisoke Research Center. To be more specific, it was 32 years and 9 months since Dian Fossey had set up camp in the Rwandan sector of the Virunga Volcanoes (Figure 1.1). On September 24, 1967, using a marriage of Karisimbi and Visoke, the names of the two closest volcanoes, Fossey christened her site Karisoke. She could not have known that this would be her home for the rest of her life, or that the tent she pitched at 3000m in that wet, montane forest would become one of the longest-running research sites in field primatology. Many of the direct descendants of the mountain gorillas she first contacted in 1967 are still being observed today.

The story of Karisoke is a chronicle of the development of behavioral and ecological research, intertwined with the growth of conservation efforts to save mountain gorillas. It has been played out against a backdrop of political instability and, over the past decade, devastating war. We present briefly this story below, to set the stage for the chapters that follow (for a more detailed description of the development and history of behavioral ecology, we recommend Strier, 1994 and Janson, 2000).

The intellectual setting

By 1967, primatology and anthropology were ripe for a long-term study of gorillas. It was four years after the publication of George Schaller's classic work, The Mountain Gorilla, a landmark study of remarkable detail that described the basics of the subspecies‘ social organization, life history, and ecology (Schaller, 1963).

Type
Chapter
Information
Mountain Gorillas
Three Decades of Research at Karisoke
, pp. 1 - 26
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2001

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×