Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund CEO Dr. Tara Stoinski on Rwanda, Ellen DeGeneres, and a Conservation Success Story
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund CEO Dr. Tara Stoinski discusses mountain gorilla conservation, the brand-new Ellen DeGeneres campus, and the fascinating life of famous scientist Dian Fossey.
This week, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund CEO Dr. Tara Stoinski joins Bruce to discuss the fascinating scientific and conservation work the organization does in the mountains of Rwanda, as well as the fund’s brand-new Ellen DeGeneres Campus—a facility that will not only change how we study and protect mountain gorillas but also enhance what is already one of the world’s epic travel experiences.
Continuing the work of the legendary Fossey—who was murdered in Rwanda in the 1980s—Stoinski and her team of scientists have piloted what is one of the rare success stories for a critically endangered species. The foundation has monitored six generations of mountain gorillas over the years, and in that time the estimated population in the wild has gone from 240 specimens to more than 600.
Stoinski discusses why mountain gorillas—which also reside in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda—are so important to protect, including the fact that they are the “gardeners” of the rainforest, helping to take care of these critical ecosystems through their foraging. She also talks about poaching, snares, and some of the other challenges gorillas face, as well as the effective measures the Rwandan government has taken over the past years to ensure their recovery.
A huge step for the gorilla’s future survival, the new Ellen DeGeneres Campus opened in the shadow of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in February. DeGeneres’ wife, Portia de Rossi, kickstarted the fundraising for the project by making a large donation as a gift for DeGeneres. The beautifully designed campus features state-of-the-art labs, classrooms for everything from elementary school field trips to graduate student studies, and exhibits about Fossey, gorillas, and Rwanda.
For tourists, the campus also offers behind-the-scenes experiences and even the ability (through Go2Africa) to have one of the fund’s researchers accompany you on a gorilla trek. Such treks, Stoinski believes, are one of the most impactful travel experiences you can have—and are sure to convince anyone that mountain gorillas must be protected.
Hosted by: Bruce Wallin
Produced and edited by: AJ Moseley
Music by: Joey Salvia