Congressman calls for Fossey fund audit
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2005:
KIGALI, DULUTH–Responding to concerns expressed in July
2005 by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Representative Jim Oberstar
(D-Minnesota) has asked the U.S. Agency for International Development
to audit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
The focal issue appears to be whether the organization has
fulfilled pledges to promote community economic development near the
Karisoke Research Center that the late Dian Fossey founded in Rwanda.
“My office has for two months been heavily investigating the
possible misdirection of federal funds by the Dian Fossey Gorilla
Fund International,” Oberstar in mid-November 2005 told Patrick
Bigabo of the Kigali New Times. Oberstar explained that the terms
of USAid grants to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International require
audits, which have not been presented.
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International president Clare
Richardson told Bigabo that she had presented audits to both Kagame
and USAid in March 2005.
“Documents seen by this reporter,” Bigabo wrote, “indicate
that the U.S. Office of the Inspector General earlier this year
confirmed the organisation’s non-compliance” with the U.S. Office of
Management & Budget audit requirement.
As of December 16, 2005, the most recent available IRS Form
990 for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International was for the fiscal
year ending on March 31, 2003. The fund received $593,175 in
government funding during that year.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Inter-national, of Atlanta,
and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Europe, of London, U.K., both
claim to continue the gorilla studies begun in 1967 by the late Dian
Fossey at Karisoke, but have often been at odds. “We are the
original Digit Fund established by Dian Fossey in 1978,” Dian Fossey
Gorilla Fund International director of development Elyese Christensen
told ANIMAL PEOPLE in 2000, during a previous controversy. “Our
name was changed in 1992. The other fund is completely separate.”
Fossey was murdered in 1985. Her will, written to endow the
Digit Fund, was overturned in 1988. The use of her legacy and name
remain disputed, albeit more by scholars now than by the
organizations that either funded her work or continue her gorilla
Former Karisoke research director Dieter Steklis recently
resigned after the Kigali New Times published an allegation that he
was involved in illegally smuggling gorilla bones out of Rwanda,
apparently in connection with scientific study.
Richardson told Bigabo that Steklis had simply taken another job.