The Gorilla Museum in Musanze offers insight into mountain gorilla conservation success story in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. This historical site is accessible about 1.5 hours’ drive away from Kigali capital city. The Musanze Gorilla Museum serves best as a new gorilla exhibition centre where tourists can get facts about mountain gorilla protection success story while on Rwanda gorilla safari.
The Gorilla Museum is also most famous as the Karisoke Exhibit was founded by Karisoke Research Centre which is run by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI). This is an international gorilla conservation organ and it was established in commemoration of Dr. Dian Fossey. It conveys the legacy of her gorilla conservation efforts to generations.
Generally, the DFGFI has its focus on the two gorilla sub-species in Rwanda and Congo; mountain gorillas and Eastern Lowland gorillas. Mountain gorillas exist only in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo with only not more than 1063 of them still thriving.
Within the gorilla room, there are 2 large exhibits to explore; the one with male human skeleton and that of the male gorilla. This provides the best description of genetic relationship between man and apes. It offers in-depth understanding about physical distinction between mountain gorillas and man, then male and female gorillas. Besides, you can also read more about the life history of endangered mountain gorillas, life expectancy, reproduction or their infant mortality especially on the notes and exhibits on the walls of gorilla museum.
The gorilla room also features a wall of fame which has a list of gorillas killed by poachers. They include Digit (from 1965 to 1977), Effie (1961-1994), Marchesa (1942 to 1980), Kweli (1975 to 1978), Macho (1961 to 1971) and Uncle Bert (from 1952 to 1978).
There is also The Dian Fossey room. This is where you can have in-depth understanding of Dian Fossey gorilla conservation attempts, field photos, books, newspaper printouts, field notes to mention but a few. Above all, the iconic attraction here is the small cache of some of her property which was extracted from her first site and these include a traditional drum, small shelf, old office table & chairs.
In the 3rd room within the Gorilla museum-this is best called the Virtual Virunga. It is 3-dimensional visualization room with data, photographic map, satellite imagery. You can also visit a room showing exhibits which depict threats mountain gorillas face especially beekeeping at the borders around Volcanoes National Park. There are also exhibits of other species of wildlife that Volcanoes National Park protects for you to see.
Why Dian Fossey is remembered
Dian Fossey is remembered among the many things for her 18 years research about the endangered mountain gorillas in the Virunga region. She also helped spread their plight to the world in her book and later a movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist.’ Unfortunately, she was mysteriously murdered in 1985. Her gorilla conservation legacy can be best explored on Dian Fossey grave hike starting from Kinigi where Volcanoes National Park offices are.
You trek up-to Karisoke Research camp to explore Dian Fossey tomb site which is set between Bisoke/Visoke and Karisimbi Mountains. This is where she was laid to rest next to Digit gorilla, the gorilla she so much loved. Her whole gorilla research journey began in 1967 after invitation by Dr. Richard Leakey. Today, a visit to her graveyard offers an inspirational experience yet also challenges one emotionally, intellectually & physically.