Dian Fossey

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Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey Signed Book “Gorillas in the Mist” - 1983

A First Edition, First Printing hardcover of the 1983 landmark book Gorillas in the Mist, signed “Best Wishes, Dian Fossey” in blue ballpoint on the last page of the Acknowledgements section. She was murdered under still-uncertain circumstances likely related to her uneasy relationship with Rwandan locals who saw her as a threat to the gorilla-related tourist and exportation industry. Since Fossey was murdered just two years after its publication, signed copies of this book are excessively scarce and rarely come onto the market. Clean and tight, in fine condition throughout; dust jacket shows its age, with typical shelf and corner wear and folds on reverse.

One of the most important books ever written about our connection to the natural world, Gorillas In The Mist is the riveting account of Dian Fossey’s thirteen years in a remote African rain forest with the greatest of the great apes. Fossey’s extraordinary efforts to ensure the future of the rain forest and its remaining mountain gorillas are captured in her own words and in candid photographs of this fascinating endangered species. As only she could, Fossey combined her personal adventure story with groundbreaking scientific reporting in an unforgettable portrait of one of our closest primate relatives. Although Fossey’s work ended tragically in her murder, Gorillas In The Mist remains an invaluable testament to one of the longest-running field studies of primates and reveals her undying passion for her subject, and remains the best-selling book about gorillas of all time.

Dian Fossey (1932-1985) was an American zoologist who undertook an extensive study of gorilla groups over a period of 18 years. She observed them daily for years in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by famed paleontologist Louis Leakey, who also sent Jane Goodall to Tanzania to study chimpanzees, and Birute Galdikas to Borneo to study orangutans.

In 1967, she founded the Karisoke Research Center, a remote rainforest camp nestled in the Virunga Mountains in Ruhengeri province, Rwanda. When her photograph appeared on the cover of National Geographic Magazine in January 1970, Fossey became an international celebrity, bringing massive publicity to her cause of saving the mountain gorilla from extinction, as well as convincing the general public that gorillas are not as bad as they are sometimes depicted in movies and books. Photographs showing the gorilla “Peanuts” touching Fossey’s hand depicted the first recorded peaceful contact between a human being and a wild gorilla. Her extraordinary rapport with animals and her background as an occupational therapist brushed away the Hollywood “King Kong” myth of an aggressive, savage beast.

Fossey strongly supported “active conservation”—for example anti-poaching patrols and preservation of natural habitat—as opposed to “theoretical conservation”, which includes the promotion of tourism. She was also strongly opposed to zoos, as the capture of individual animals all too often involves the killing of their family members.

Fossey was brutally murdered in the bedroom of her cabin on December 26, 1985. Farley Mowat’s biography of Fossey, Woman in the Mists, suggests that it is unlikely that she was killed by poachers, as is commonly suspected. Mowat believes that she was killed by those who viewed her as an impediment to the touristic and financial exploitation of the gorillas. According to the book, which includes many of Fossey’s private letters, poachers would have been more likely to kill her in the forest, with little risk to themselves.

Today, the Karisoke Research Center is operated by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and continues the daily gorilla monitoring and protection that she started.

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