bob campbell's photographs dian fossey's Karisoke Research Center, 1968 - 1972

Bob Campbell (British Kenyan resident, 1930-2014)

(left) Silverback "Rafiki watches Dian. Group 8." Young blackback Peanuts is also visible, Rwanda. 1969

(right) Dian Fossey with blackback gorilla Peanuts, Rwanda. 1970

Historic first images


Among thousands of Campbell’s photographs at Karisoke these images have captured historic firsts that changed popular understanding of gorillas. In June 1969, he documented Fossey in visual contact with Rafiki and Peanuts, members of Group 8. Before this moment, no person had been photographed in the same frame with a wild mountain gorilla. One year later, in June 1970, Campbell documented the first peaceful physical contact between a mountain gorilla, Peanuts (one of Fossey’s research gorillas), and a human. National Geographic magazine published images from the event, showing Peanuts and Fossey in close contact, though the shutter did not quite capture the moment of Peanuts’ touch. Dian Fossey called this one of the most memorable moments of her life.