Karisoke Research Centre, Rwanda

Brief History

George Schaller began work with the mountain gorillas of the Virungas in 1959. Dian Fossey arrived early in 1967 and ran the site until her death in 1985. Research presence has been intermittent since the late 1980s due to political unrest in the region.

Primary source for the following Site Data is McGrew et. al. (1996), Great Ape Societies (Cambridge University Press), Appendix.


Name: Karisoke Research Centre, Parc National des Volcans
Location: Rwanda, 29 E 1 30' S 1° 30' S, 29° E
Status: National Park (and adjoining national parks in Congo [ex-Zaire] and Uganda)
Area: 400km2
Altitude: 2500 - 4500m
Temp: ---°C
Rainfall: 1800mm
Vegetation: Montane rainforest and woodland
Hunting, wood cutting, agricultural encroachment
Disturbance ratings -- 2, 2, 2, 2, 1
Gorilla gorilla beringei
--- individuals per km2
Fauna: Perodicticus potto, Cercopithecus mitis kandtii, C. ascanius, Papio anubis; previously Panthera leo, P. pardus [taken from GAS, not clear if leopards really gone...]
1967-- present
Habituation: Excellent
Permanent 1967-94, now intermittent
Conservation: Ecotourism, education, training, park protection
None at present
Methods: Focal-subject sampling
David Watts, Dept of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI 48109
Habitat photos ---
Maps ---
Aerial photos ---
Bibliography References relating to Karisoke (a small subset)
  • Ashford, R. W., Reid, G. D. F. & Butynski, T. M. (1990). The intestinal faunas of man and mountain gorillas in a shared habitat. Ann. Trop. Med. Parasitol. 84: 337-340.
  • Byrne, R. W. & Byrne, J. M. E. (1993). Complex leaf-gathering skills of mountain gorillas (Gorilla g. beringei) -- variability and standardization. Am. J. Primatol. 31: 241-261.
  • Eberle, R. (1992). Evidence for an alpha-herpesvirus indigenous to mountain gorillas. J. Med. Primatol. 21: 246-251.
  • Field, D., Chemnick, L., Robbins, M., Garner, K. & others. (1998). Paternity determination in captive lowland gorillas and orangutans and wild mountain gorillas by microsatellite analysis. Primates. 39: 199-209.
  • Fossey, D. (1983). Gorillas in the Mist. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Fossey, D. & Harcourt, A. H. (1977). Feeding ecology of free-ranging mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei). pp. 415-447 IN Clutton-Brock, T. H. (Ed.), Primate Ecology. London: Academic Press.
  • Foster, J. W. (1992). Mountain gorilla conservation -- a study in human values. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 200: 629-633.
  • Garner, K. J. & Ryder, O. A. (1996). Mitochondrial DNA diversity in gorillas. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 6: 39-48.
  • Harcourt, A. H., Stewart, K. & Hauser, M. (1993). The social use of vocalizations by gorillas: I. Social behavior and vocal repertoire. Behaviour. 124: 89-122.
  • Mahaney, W. C., Aufreiter, S. & Hancock, R. G. V. (1995). Mountain gorilla geophagy -- a possible seasonal behavior for dealing with the effects of dietary changes. Int. J. Primatol. 16: 475-488.
  • Mahaney, W. C., Watts, D. P. & Hancock, R. G. V. (1990). Geophagia by mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei) in the Virunga Mountains, Rwanda. Primates. 31: 113-120.
  • Robbins, M. M. (1995). A demographic analysis of male life history and social structure of mountain gorillas. Behaviour. 132: 21-47.
  • Robbins, M. M. (1996). Male-male interactions in heterosexual and all-male wild mountain gorilla groups. Ethology. 102: 942-965.
  • Robbins, M. M. & Czekala, N. M. (1997). A preliminary investigation of urinary testosterone and cortisol levels in wild male mountain gorillas. Am. J. Primatol. 43: 51-64.
  • Schaller, G. B. (1963). The Mountain Gorilla. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Sicotte, P. (1994). Effect of male competition on male-female relationships in bi-male groups of mountain gorillas. Ethology. 97: 47-64.
  • Sicotte, P. (1995). Interpositions in conflicts between males in bimale groups of mountain gorillas. Folia primatol. 65: 14-24.
  • Stewart, K. J. & Harcourt, A. H. (1987). Gorillas: Variation in female relationships. pp. 155-164 IN Smuts, B. B., Cheney, D. L., Seyfarth, R. M., Struhsaker, T. T. & Wrangham, R. W. (Ed.), Primate Societies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • van Overstraeten, M. & Trefois, P. (1993). Detectability of land systems by classification from LANDSAT Thematic Mapper data -- Virunga National Park (Zaire). Int. J. Remote Sensing. 14: 2857-2873.
  • Watts, D. P. (1989). Mountain gorilla life histories, reproductive competition, and sociosexual behavior and some implications for captive husbandry. Zoo Biol. 9: 1-16.
  • Watts, D. P. (1991). Strategies of habitat use by mountain gorillas. Folia primatol. 56: 1-16.
  • Watts, D. P. (1994). Agonistic relationships between female mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei). Beh. Ecol. Sociobiol. 34: 347-358.
  • Watts, D. P. (1994). The influence of male mating tactics on habitat use in mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei). Primates. 35: 35-47.
  • Watts, D. P. (1994). Social relationships of immigrant and resident female mountain gorillas, II: relatedness, residence, and relationships between females. Am. J. Primatol. 32: 13-30.
  • Watts, D. P. (1997). Agonistic interventions in wild mountain gorilla groups. Behaviour. 134: 23-57.
  • Watts, D. P. (1998). A preliminary study of selective visual attention in female mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringei). Primates. 39: 71-78.
  • Weber, A. W. (1987). Socioecologic factors in the conservation of Afromontane forest reserves. pp. 205-229 IN Marsh, C. W. & Mittermeier, R. A. (Ed.), Primate Conservation in the Tropical Rainforest. New York: Alan R. Liss.
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