The issues were too important to ignore, however and we decided that bill should meet with Harcourt and Curry Lindah! And bring them up to Karisoke, if possible, to see if Dian might change her mind. By then we had sold our used Renault, so Bill left camp early one morning and walked the four hours to Ruhengeri. From there he boarded a Toyota pickup and rode through an intense afternoon storm to Kigali.
MONFORT, HARCOURT and Curry-Lindahl were already seated at La Taaverne when Bill arrived. The ruddy faced Swedie introduced himself pointedly as the chef de mission, underscoring his position with an insistence that he pay for the meal. Bill readily accepted though he could already imagine Dian accusing him of feeding on “bloody money”. The next several hours were spent discussing ideas for a mountain gorilla conservation plan. Bill reviewed our research and conclusions which in turn informed our recommendation to attack the problem on three fronts, anti poaching to halt the killing, education to change people’s perception and values and tightly controlled tourism to generate political support for the park and gorillas through foreign exchange revenue and local employment. Each of the participants had some experience with the park and gorillas and each had his opinions. Alain lobbied for ORTPN support, but with some outside control over finances Curry-Lindah questioned the value of long term education in the face of such immediate problems. Every one debated the double edged potential of tourism and the lack of any model for foot based nature tourism in a rugged jngle.A s the evening progressed, however agreement coalesced around our original three part program. Curry Lindahl concluded that he could make the case to Dian whose support would then make the case to Dian, whose support would then create a unified front for a final proposal to ORTPN.
THE NEXT MORNING, Bill and the others joined Alain Monfort as he careened his Peugeot 504 North to the Virungas. Bill had never experienced the rutted mountain track in such comfort. Arriving at the base of Visoke, Bill climbed up alone while the others returned to waiting nearby Ruhengeri. We reviewed the Kigali meeting, then went to discuss the matter once more with Dian, hopeful that she would relent and allow the others to come up to Karisoke. But Dian again dismissed our arguments. She instead wrote a rude note to be carried down to the base of the mountain telling the team to stay away when they arrived the next morning. We went to bed dejected yet determined to try one more time. The next morning we returned to Dian’s cabin to restate the case for cooperation with the fund, we offered no radically new arguments, but Dian seemed more attentive and clear headed. After no more than twenty minutes, she changed her mind. Amy and Rwelekana then raced down the mountain in a record twenty two minutes, arriving just in time to intercept the porter bearing Dian’s first note. In its place they delivered a more conciliatory, if limited, invitation Curry –Lindali could come up to Dian’s cabin, but neither Monfort nor Harcourt was welcome anywhere near Karisoke. We had done our part.