Middlebury

February 22, 2002

Contact:
Sarah Ray

802-443-5794

sray@middlebury.edu

Posted: February 22, 2002

MIDDLEBURY,
VT
- Amy Vedder and Bill Weber, internationally
recognized conservationists, will discuss their new book,
"In the Kingdom of Gorillas: Fragile Species in a Dangerous
Land," on Thursday, March 7, at 7 p.m. at Middlebury
College. Published in September of last year, the book is
the story of their battle to save the mountain gorillas of
Rwanda from extinction. The event will take place in Room
216 of Bicentennial Hall on Bicentennial Way off College
Street (Route 125), and is free and open to the
public.

In 1978 as a
young married couple, Vedder and Weber traveled to Rwanda to
study the mountain gorillas with well-known researcher Dian
Fossey. They experienced the joys of mingling among the
gorillas and getting to know the characters of individual
animals. They also endured their first heartbreak when a
young female gorilla, injured by poachers, died in their
arms from infection. Against Fossey’s wishes, Vedder
and Weber eventually determined that the key to saving the
gorillas was the creation of an eco-tourism program, the
Mountain Gorilla Project, that benefits the Rwandan
people.

While in
Rwanda, the couple also witnessed destruction resulting from
civil war, the country’s subsequent efforts to create
stability, and the ravages
that the AIDS virus has brought to the nation. All the
while, they conducted extensive field research and
documented the political challenges of establishing their
program. Despite war and in large part because of Vedder and
Webers’ project, the population of mountain gorillas is
currently the highest it has been since the 1960s. The
authors will discuss how critical it is to understand a
country’s beliefs, society, politics and economics to
ensure that conservation efforts are realistically aligned
with local culture and ultimately successful.

For more
information, contact Scott Barnicle, Middlebury College dean
of Atwater Commons, at 802-443-3310 or sbarnicl@middlebury.edu.