الخميس، 16 يناير 2014

Dian Fossey Life and Death

Dian Fossey Life and Death
Dian Fossey Life and Death
Dian Fossey Life and Death

Dian Fossey
Dian Fossey
Were she alive today, Dian Fossey likely would agree that she was both the best and worst thing to happen to the mountain gorillas of central Africa.
Utterly untrained, the native Californian journeyed to the continent in the 1960s to begin her famed field study of the giant apes. She would become the world's foremost advocate for the beasts.
But her study brought unprecedented international attention, and that attracted tourists, some of whom tramp on gorilla habitat, disturb the animals' migratory patterns and introduce human diseases into the endangered species.
Fossey was a complicated — independent and heroic, but also petty, selfish and fragile.
She made a few friends but far more enemies during two decades in the jungle.
She was feared and reviled by the native poachers who killed gorillas to sell their trophy — the hands and feet, which were made into ashtrays, and the heads.
Poached gorillas
Poached gorillas
She was competitive and often combative with fellow researchers, few of whom she trusted.
She frequently sparred with her funding sources, including the National Geographic Society, over her insistence that she maintain absolute control over her research center in Rwanda.
She had a complex relationship with American ambassadors in Africa, who eventually came to view her as more trouble than she was worth. And she parried regularly with the Rwandan government, its parks supervisors and its tourism office--nettled relationships that likely spelled her doom.
Fossey was found hacked to death in 1985. A Rwandan kangaroo court convicted two men in the murder, but international authorities dismissed those suspects as nothing more than convenient foils propped up by the government.
Her murder was considered unsolved for more than 15 years.
But today the man believed responsible, a mysterious former Rwandan government official known as Mr. Z, is in custody awaiting trial.
The Fossey allegation is the least of his worries. Mr. Z faces no charges in that case but in the appalling 1994 genocide of nearly one million ethnic minorities in Rwanda.

Dian Fossey was born in 1932 in San Francisco. Her parents divorced when she was six. She was raised by her mother, Kitty, but probably inherited her father's constitution and more than a few of his biological flaws. Dian Fossey was destined to become a chain smoker and heavy drinker, like her father, George. She also was prone to depression, again like George Fossey, who committed suicide in his mid-50s.
Dian was raised by Kitty and her second husband, contractor Richard Price. Her stepfather was a taskmaster and her mother a worrywart, according to Fossey's account of her childhood.
She left home for college and never returned except for brief visits. Fossey began studying veterinary science at the University of California, but she transferred to San Jose State College and switched majors to occupational therapy. She graduated in 1954 and moved 2,000 miles from her mother, taking a job working with autistic children at a Shriners' hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.
She grew into a striking young woman. A shade under six feet tall, she had a willowy build and a vast nest of coarse auburn hair.
Through her work she became acquainted with doctors and their wives, and through those contacts she developed an active social life in Louisville, cavorting with men from the city's social register.
Among her suitors were two brothers, Franz and Alexie Forrester, scions of a Rhodesian family with royal Austrian roots. In part through their influence, Fossey became smitten by Africa. Coincidentally, two other friends — a newspaper reporter and a society doyenne — had traveled to the continent By 1960 Fossey was obsessed with the idea of going on safari.

The Africa of Fossey's safari
The Africa of Fossey's safari
"I had a deep wish to see and live with wild animals in a world that hadn't yet been completely changed by humans," Fossey would later write.
One problem: She had no money, and the month-long trip would cost $5,000 — more than a full year's salary.
Franz Forrester offered a solution. He proposed marriage, promising a safari honeymoon. But Fossey was not ready to settle down.
Instead, she saved every penny for two years, then took a loan against future income to raise the money for her safari. She departed Sept. 26, 1963, with an itinerary that included Zaire, Kenya, Rwanda, Rhodesia, Tanganyika and Uganda.
She had hired a British guide, John Alexander, whom she arranged to meet at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, a jungle playhouse for the wealthy outside Nairobi. Her 'Great White Hunter,' as she called him, proved surly and impatient, and he and Fossey would spend much of their time together disagreeing.
<em>Woman in the Mists</em> by Farley Mowat
Woman in the Mists by Farley
"He is a bore and I feel as though a huge tsetse fly were hovering over my head all the time I'm with him," Fossey wrote in her journal, quoted in Farley Mowat's book Woman in the Mists. "Yesterday I was tempted to abandon him and his Land Rover when he claimed some African had given him a bit of lip. It spoiled the whole afternoon of game-viewing for me. But on the other hand, when this jerk wants something, he's as obsequious as a lamb. He may be tall and handsome, but to me he's ugly."
That tone would come to define Fossey's relationships for decades to come. She was hard to please, and few people managed to live up to the standards she expected — even if she rarely attained them herself.

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