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. He served as Ambassador for the UN Year of the Gorilla
As with his mentor, the late Dr 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. Ten years later in Kenya, the experience
was repeated when some of the cave-elephants he was studying
were killed by ivory poachers.
As a result, he became a conservation consultant
and advisor for organizations such as the Born Free Foundation,
the Gorilla Organization, Orangutan Foundation, Wildlifeline
and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. To encourage
such groups to work together, he established and chairs
the Ape Alliance (70 organizations linked via www.4apes.com),
the African Ele-Fund and the UK Rhino Group (www.rhinogroup.org.uk).
He is now Chief Consultant for GRASP - UNEP/ UNESCO Great
Apes Survival Partnership he helped launch in 2001.
Born in Malaysia, Ian’s passion for
animals developed during his boyhood in Beverley, a market
town in Yorkshire, and after University, took him in 1976
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,
for the famous BBC ‘Life on Earth’ sequences,
and who taught Sigourney Weaver to grunt like a gorilla
in 1987, for her award-winning role in the film ‘Gorillas
in the Mist’ (in which he is characterized as ‘The
Worm Boy’). 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
Putting conservation principles into practice,
he has led anti-poacher patrols, guided film crews and/or
special interest tours into close encounters with gorillas,
chimpanzees, orangutans, elephants and erupting volcanoes,
and worked to support local conservationists during the
horrors of Rwanda’s and D.R. Congo’s civil wars.
Under-cover investigations led him to play the role of a
potential ape-buyer in order to infiltrate a poaching ring
in Congo-Brazzaville and more recently a potential Coltan
dealer in DRC. His work on behalf of animals was recognized
in 1996 with the presentation of the PAWS Humane Achievement
Award, at a ceremony in Hollywood, California. He was appointed
OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2006.
As well as great apes, Ian Redmond’s
research interests include: underground elephants - he carried
out the first study and photography of elephants in the
caves of Mt Elgon in Kenya and helped Sir David Attenborough
to film them for the acclaimed BBC series ‘Life of
Mammals’; parasites - he studied gorilla parasites,
and in Papua New Guinea, discovered several new species
of nematode worms; reptiles and amphibians - he discovered
two new species of frog, also in New Guinea; and re-introducing
orphaned apes, elephants and polar bears to the wild.
Asked to summarize 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 recognize 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."