National Geographic : 1992 Mar
s wholly dependent as a human infant, a newborn mountain gorilla will stay cradled in its mother's embrace for three months. Each gorilla in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, Zaire, and Uganda owes a debt to the late Dian Fossey. Although her obsession with gorillas earned her many enemies, she opened a window on the social nature of these largest primates. Her accounts-in the GEO GRAPHIC, in Society tel evision programs, and in a book-helped banish stereotypes of gorillas as stupid and ferocious, revealing instead the ani mals' complex range of emotions and behaviors. When poaching took a toll, Fossey alerted the world. Later researchers helped set up antipoach ing patrols, educate local people, and bring in tour ist dollars for conserva tion. The mountain gorilla population rose from 239 individuals in 1981 to 320 today, and baby Pasika, sixth offspring of 27-year old Papoose, has a better chance in life.