FUNDRAISING NEWS: Fossey fund to create memorial endowment

CLAIRE SAMES

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is to use the proceeds from a memorial endowment it is launching to step up the security of mountain gorillas in Africa.

Following a lengthy legal battle with the Price Living Trust, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has received £100,000, the remainder of the pioneering researcher's legacy, to set up the memorial endowment.

The endowment has received a further £225,000 from donations, bringing the total fund to £325,000.The interest made this year is enough to finance a student to work in the field for a year.

Jillian Miller, director of the charity, said: "If we get £1million in the endowment and it pays us 5 per cent each year for 20 years, we'll have made £1 million, which we can spend in the field, and still have £1 million in the bank."

As well as protecting the gorillas, the fund helps local communities that surround the protected areas in order to maintain the land that the gorillas' inhabit.

It provides training, loans and also helps install and fund water systems.

The memorial fund will be officially launched this autumn at a gala event in Covent Garden's Royal Opera House which will mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the mountain gorilla.

The event will aim to raise £300,000 for the gorillas, a third of the charity's annual running costs.

The charity wanted to set up the endowment four years ago when interests rates were higher. However, Fossey's legacy was embroiled in a legal battle, as her parents contested her original will following her murder in 1985.

She left the majority of her estate to the Digit Fund, named after one of the gorilla's she tried to protect, but a US court ruled the fund invalid.

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