With primatologist Felix Ndagijimana being named the first Rwandan director of the Karisoke Research Center yesterday (on what would have been Dian Fossey’s 80th birthday), it is fitting to follow up with another achievement in capacity building this week. Deo Tuyisingize, the Fossey Fund’s Karisoke Biodiversity Program manager, will be traveling to Chicago, IL, for a small mammal training period at the Chicago Field Museum for the months of February and March. Funded by the Field Museum and IDP Foundation, Inc., African Training Fund Awards, Tuyisingize will work in collaboration with Dr. Julian Kerbis, an expert in small mammals of the Albertine Rift region.
Tuyisingize says that their primary focus for the study are specimens that are poorly known and thus, difficult to identify, such as mice, bats, voles and shrews. These small mammals are important indicators of environmental health and biodiversity, play a pivotal role in floodplain food webs and can provide important insight into the spread of pathogens from animals to humans.
“Currently, Rwanda does not have a single natural history institution or even a zoological department that is able to process small mammal specimens,” says Tuyisingize. “Rwanda does not have the technical expertise in documenting, collecting, preparing, identifying, cataloguing and publishing data from small mammal communities.” Examining and processing these African specimens at the Chicago Field Museum alongside experienced scientists will provide knowledge and technical expertise that Tuyisingize can bring back to his country to empower fellow Rwandan scientists.
For more information about the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, please go to www.gorillafund.org