Found murdered in the bedroom of her cabin in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda in 1985, Dian Fossey was - and remains - the most widely-known researcher on the endangered mountain gorilla, of which only about 250 are believed to still live in the wild.
The last entry in Fossey’s diary, which was found in her cabin, read: “When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate on the preservation of the future.”
Fossey’s skull had been split open with a machete, a tool used by poachers in the area to hunt and kill the gorilla for resale. It is assumed that the poachers of the area, which Fossey had fought hard for nearly a decade, had her killed to make their lives easier. Thousands of dollars in cash, checks, and other valuables were found untouched in the cabin.
Today, Fossey is buried next to her dead gorilla friends, many of which had been killed by the very poachers that likely hunted her. After her death, memorial services were held in Washington D.C., New York, and California. The cabins in which she and her staff lived do not exist anymore except for a few bare foundations, overgrown with weeds.
Know Before You Go
This is a difficult hike, steep at places, that will take about five hours. Wear gloves and cover up to protect yourself from the stinging flora. All tourist groups are accompanied by armed guards to protect against poachers and wild animals.