Save the Gorillas to Save the World

Ian Redmond OBE, Ambassador for the UN International Year of the Gorilla

05.05.2009 19:00


Price: Entrance free

Ian Redmond OBE, Ambassador for the UN International Year of the Gorilla, explains how saving these charismatic apes in their African forests can help slow climate change. The lecture is followed by a screening of the documentary film The Gorilla King about the life of Titus, an extraordinary mountain gorilla.

 

Ian Redmond is a tropical field biologist and conservationist, renowned for his work with great apes and elephants. For more than 30 years he has been associated with Mountain Gorillas, through research, filming, tourism and conservation work. Asked to summarise his work, he says, "I am a naturalist by birth, a biologist by training, and a conservationist by necessity. But conservation for me isn't just about saving species. On a larger scale, the planet needs us to save functioning eco-systems; on a smaller scale, we must also recognise that species are made up of individual animals. For me, it became personal when I had the privilege of getting to know individual wild animals in the wild... I can truthfully say that some of my best friends are gorillas, and I care passionately about them and the future of all life on Earth."

 

In 1976, Ian Redmond's passion for animals took him to Africa. There he joined Dian Fossey, studying and protecting the mountain gorillas of Rwanda and Zaire. This work also led him into documentary film-making. Ian is the man who introduced Sir David Attenborough to the gorillas in 1978, and who taught Sigourney Weaver to grunt like a gorilla in 1987, for her award-winning role in the film Gorillas in the Mist. He has advised in the making of, and/or appeared in more than 50 documentary films for the BBC, National Geographic Society, Discovery Channel, TF1, etc. His books have been translated into many languages and he is in demand as an entertaining and thought-provoking public speaker.

 

As with his mentor Dian Fossey, the main focus of his work shifted in 1978 from research to conservation work, after poachers killed Digit - a young silverback in one of the Karisoke study groups - to sell his skull and hands. Finding the headless, handless body of a gorilla he regarded as a friend was a turning point in his life. He became a conservation consultant and advisor for organisations such as the Born Free Foundation, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Wildlifeline and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. To encourage such groups to work together, he established and chairs the Ape Alliance, the African Ele-Fund and the UK Rhino Group. He is now Chief Consultant for GRASP - UNEP/ UNESCO Great Apes Survival Project he helped launch in 2001.

 

The Gorilla King, Documentary Film
Among the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, Titus reigns as king, a position he gained with extraordinary courage, strategy and determination. The record of his life began when Dian Fossey, the famed primatologist, introduced a young researcher named Kelly Stewart to the gorillas. Stewart, daughter of film star James Stewart, was there to make the very first journal entry about young Titus, meeting and naming him in August of 1974, when he was just two days old. In the decades that followed, he was orphaned and abandoned, survived murderous poachers, and the deadly challenge of his rivals. His triumphant story is recounted by researchers and conservationists as they share their memories and archival footage of Titus, from his days as a newborn to his rise to power as a silverback. (60 min)

 

The Year of the Gorilla 2009
The protection of biodiversity is a fundamental prerequisite to the well being of people and to ensuring a prosperous and healthy planet for generations to come. Gorillas, the gentle giants of the forest, are one of humanity's closest relatives, and failure to stop their current decline would bode ill for the future prospects of humankind itself. The Year of the Gorilla will aim, using this magnificent species as flagship, to conserve not only the gorilla, but also its tropical rainforest habitat. Through carbon storage, sweet water replenishment and many other ecosystem-services, these forests are a central pillar of a ‘functioning' planet. The African range states have shown their commitment to saving the gorilla by concluding in record speed an Agreement covering all four gorilla sub-species. Six of the ten range states have already ratified the Agreement, which came into force in June 2008. Supporting its implementation will be one of the central goals of the Year of the Gorilla. The UNEP Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the UNEP/UNESCO Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) have joined hands to declare 2009 the Year of the Gorilla (YoG).

 

More information about the exhibition

 

 

Lecture and film in English

 

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