Amy Vedder brings lessons from Rwanda home to America

Before Amy Vedder was the senior vice president for conservation at The Wilderness Society, she lived a rather more wild existence. Living in Rwanda for nearly 8 years, Amy and her husband Bill Weber worked to protect mountain gorillas and their habitat by empowering Rwandans to care for their precious forest.

In their critically-acclaimed book, In the Kingdom of Gorillas, Amy and Bill describe in vivid detail their heart-warming experiences with wild mountain gorillas, the heartbreak of gorilla deaths at the hands of poachers, and the challenge of promoting wildlife interests in a nation beset by poverty, political disintegration, and ultimately genocide.

Now, with a new addition of the book out, Amy is taking the lessons she learned in Rwanda on the road --- But with a twist.

“I see how saving gorillas in Rwanda is strikingly similar to saving endangered species and places here in the United States,” Vedder said when I sat down with her to talk about the book tour. “We here at The Wilderness Society use many of the principles and approaches to protect our grizzlies in Montana – or our special places - as we used to protect our gorillas in Rwanda.

“When we connect people to the land, and show how conservation not only saves wildlife but also protects our precious resources, we have created lasting, working partnerships for conservation. People need to invest in their land so they can have clean air and water – and new, green jobs - while protecting our beloved wildlife.”

The 2010 edition of In the Kingdom of Gorillas includes a new epilogue highlighting dramatic changes in Rwanda as witnessed by the authors over the past ten years. Their first-hand observations inform three major story lines: the remarkable recovery of a nation back on its feet and standing tall; the continuing success of conservation and tourism – now fully in Rwandan hands; and the end of life stories – sad, but ultimately positive – of Pablo, Puck, and other gorillas introduced to readers in the first edition.

Check below to see if Amy is coming to your town next:

Feb. 10: Seattle, Wash., Woodland Park Zoo., 6-8 p.m. Contact:
Feb. 15: Portland, Ore., Oregon Zoo., 7 p.m. Contact:

Feb. 17: Bozeman, MT., Baxter Ballroom - Baxter Hotel., 6-9 p.m.

April 19-21:  Minnesota


Early/mid-May: Denver, Colo.*

*Locations to be announced