Uganda Travel News

Kai Curry-Lindahl spent that evening with Dian. We were not invited to join their deliberations. The next morning Curry-Lindahi stopped briefly at our cabin to report that he had “a most successful visit” He then said that Dian was a remarkable woman” adding that she had moved close to him after dinner and ran her fingers through his hair. He went onto tell us that we didn’t understand her, that “she just needs love”. With no further comments on the conservation mission that brought him to Karisoke, Curry Lindahl departed to walk down the mountains. We were left with his apparent admonition to remind us that no good deed goes unpunished. Certain that romance was not an option we wished to pursue in our relationship with Dian, we were never less encouraged. The project might now move forward.

AFTER THEIR DEPARTURE, Harcourt and Curry-Lindahl were quick to publish an article titled “conservation of the mountain gorilla and its habitat in Rwanda.”The paper contained a recapitulation of our ideas with no reference at all to our work, not even an acknowledgement of our discussions in Rwanda. It was discouraging to see the results of three combined years of hard work, analysis and recommendations appear under the names of people who had asked for our suggestions and whose visit we had helped to facilitate. We published our basic recommendations for gorilla conservation in an East African journal but their article was printed in the much more widely distributed environment conservation. At that point in our lives, this slight hurt especially from sandy Harcourt whom we considered a friend and supporter. Looking back, the issue of attribution seems exceptionally unimportant in comparison with the higher goal of seeing our ideas applied to saving the gorillas. In that respect, the Curry-Lindahl mission proved to be a useful vehicle for conservation.

In the weeks after his visit, we would learn that Dian’s deal with Currry- Lindahl was sealed with more than a kiss. On the mission’s return to England it was announced that the fauna and flora preservation society would be joined by a new partner, the African wildlife leadership foundation. Dian had insisted on this addition. AWLF was a relatively small American organization with a regional focus on East Africa and a concentration on training and education. The major attraction of AWLF however was Dian’s friendship with its president, Robinson Mcllvaine, a former US ambassador to Kenya. Through the power of her position at Karisoke, and supported by Curry-Lindahl, Dian convinced the others that AWLF should take the lead in what was now being called the mountain gorilla project Jean Pierre vonder Becke, a former colonial park warden in Congo was named project director.

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