Despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic, Fossey Fund teams continued to conduct daily protection and monitoring of gorillas in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, never missing a day in the field.
Trackers in Rwanda were organized in alternating teams, spending weeks at a time in remote camps to reduce the risk of disease transmission while ensuring gorillas were safe and healthy. Training for the 2020-2021 cohort of Memoirs Program students has been postponed but CMZ’s Director of Conservation and Science Dr. Kristen Lukas, as well as CMZ graduate research student, Laura Bernsten-Kurtycz, and Cleveland Metroparks GIS Manager Stephen Mather were able to complete in-person training for the 2019-2020 students in early March and look forward to returning as soon as possible.
Zoo Society funding is providing continuing support for the CMZ interns in Rwanda, whose tenure was extended due to COVID and who are providing essential support to the continuation of Fossey Fund programs and research. Although construction of the new Ellen Campus of the DFGF in Rwanda was temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, it is back on track and proceeding in full force. Kristen is working with the Fossey Fund and MASS Design teams to develop the educational messaging and evaluation plan for the public-facing Cindy Broder Conservation Gallery and outdoor Interpretive Trail, which will be named for Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Finally, Kristen was voted in as Vice Chair of the Fossey Fund Board in September and continues to provide leadership to the organization as a member of the Executive and Advancement/Marketing Committees.