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DIGIT, Dian Fossey’s Favorite and Best Gorilla Friend

Digit-and-dian-FosseyWhile on Mount Bisoke in 1967, Dian Foessy a renowned was an American zoologist, primatologist, and anthropologist who was carrying out extensive research about the mountain gorillas living in Volcanoes national park notices a two year old young mountain gorilla who she later named digit. Digit was a very playful active member living in a family of four. She observed this gorilla for more than ten years and her relationship o digit drew her to consider digit among her best-friends.

Digit had his very first sexual intercourse at six (6) years.  In 1976, when Digit was 11 years old he came a Silverback. His attaining this reputable position in the family scared Dian, because at the back her mind she knew that just as all silverback, Digit was to defend his group from any enemies even if it meant death! His becoming a silverback made him a protector as well as watchdog over his entire family. his duty was to remain at the sideline of his group helping the dominant Silverback to protect the rest of the family.

It was 31st December, 1977, when Ian Redmond (one of the researchers at the karisoke) came across the Digit’s dead body. Sadly, his head together with both hands had been cut off, and there were six (6) spear-wounds all over his body. As Digit struggled to protect his family members from poachers and their dogs who had come to attack, he instead lost his life.

During the fight back, Digit managed to kill one dog which was part of the poachers’ party. When Dian set eyes on the mutilated body of her best friend, she was really heartbroken and wrote: I cannot let myself to imagine the suffering, pain and total disbelief he went through knowing that humans whom he thought were his friends where doing all brutality to him.

Digit was buried in a gorilla graveyard located at the Karisoke research station. In 1985 when Dian Fossey was murdered, she was also buried next to Digits grave.

It was after the death of Mountain Gorilla Digit that the Digit Fund was established to handle all contributions that came in at the time in large number following his death towards gorilla conservation. After Dian Fossey dies, this fund’s name was changed to the current ‘The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’

For more information about the gorillas of Rwanda and The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’ please visit

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