Ian Redmond

A world leader in gorilla conservation

Dr Ian Redmond

A tropical field biologist and conservationist, renowned for his work with great apes and elephants.

Asked to summarise his work, Ian Redmond 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.

Ian Redmond is a tropical field biologist and conservationist, renowned for his work with great apes and elephants. For more than 35 years he has been associated with Mountain Gorillas, through research, filming, tourism and conservation work. He has served as Ambassador for the UN Year of the Gorilla in 2009 and for the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species since 2010.

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 shock was repeated when some of the cave-elephants he was studying were killed by ivory poachers.

As a result, Ian became a conservation consultant and advisor for organisations such as the Born Free Foundation, the Gorilla Organization (for which he became Chairman of the Board of Trustees in 2012), the Orangutan Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, etc. To encourage such groups to work together, he established and chairs the Ape Alliance (95 organisations linked via www.4apes.com), the African Ele-Fund and the UK Rhino Group. He was Chief Consultant and Envoy for GRASP - the UNEP/UNESCO Great Apes Survival Partnership www.UN-GRASP.org he helped launch in 2001 – until 2012 and continues as a consultant for UNEP and the FAO on matters pertaining to apes, bushmeat, forests and related issues. He is now the Ambassador for Virtual Ecotourism, and is helping develop this exciting concept for immersive, interactive conservation education.

Born in Malaysia (11 March 1954), 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 characterised as ‘The Worm Boy’). He has advised in the making of, and/or appeared in about 100 documentary films for the BBC, National Geographic Society, Discovery Channel, TF1, etc. and the 3D movie ‘The Last of the Great Apes’ www.thelastofthegreatapes.com. His books have been translated into many languages and he is in demand as an entertaining and thought-provoking public speaker.

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 poaching rings in both DRC and Congo-Brazzaville and a potential Coltan dealer in DRC. His work on behalf of animals was recognised in 1996 with the presentation of the PAWS Humane Achievement Award, at a ceremony in Hollywood, California. Ian was appointed OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2006 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Oxford Brookes University in 2011, a Lifetime Achievement Award at the New York Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in 2013 and received the 2013 Animal Action Award for Conservation from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Ian Redmond’s research interests also 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 and a new Genus 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.

Courtesy: Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)


Best known for his work with mountain gorillas, Redmond has been involved in more than 50 documentaries on the subject for, among others, BBC, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. Redmond was also involved in the film Gorillas in the Mist spending some time with Sigourney Weaver so she could better understand her character.

As a junior researcher, he was involved in the filming of David Attenborough's famous encounter with a group of mountain gorillas in Dian Fossey's sanctuary in Rwanda. He recalled the event in BBC tribute programme marking Attenborough's 90th birthday.

He was appointed an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2006.

In 2011, Redmond was awarded an honorary degree from Oxford Brookes University for his conservation work.

In 2017, he received the Animal Hero award from the RSPCA & Daily Mirror. Ian was selected for the “Next Generation” award for his tireless efforts to inspire future generations to safeguard Earth’s natural wonders.

Source: Wikipedia and vecotourism.org

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The Primate Family Tree: The Amazing Diversity of Our Closest Relatives by Ian Redmond with an introduction by Jane Goodall (also released as Primates of the World)

Elephant (Eyewitness Books) by Ian Redmond

Gorillas (Wildlife at Risk) by Ian Redmond

Gorilla, Monkey & Ape Gorilla by Ian Redmond, Peter Anderson (Photographer), Geoff Brightling (Photographer)

The Elephant Book by Ian Redmond

Sauvons Les Éléphants Sauvons Les Éléphants by Ian Redmond, Pierre Marchand, Peter Kindersley, Jean-Olivier Héron

Great Apes Great Apes by Barbara Taylor, Ian Redmond (Consultant)

Gorilas (Enciclopédia Visual, #38) by Ian Redmond (Texto), Peter Anderson (Fotografia), Geoff Brightling (Fotografia), João Pedro Ferreira (Tradução)

The Elephant in the Bush by Ian Redmond

Digit and the Gorillas of Rwanda by Ian Redmond

Gorillas by Ian Redmond

The World of Elephants by Virginia Harrison, Ian Redmond

Gorilas = Gorilla by Santillana, Ian Redmond, Peter Anderson (Illustrator)

Elephants underground ; Mountain gorillas by Ian Redmond

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What is the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP)?

Great ape populations are declining at an alarming rate worldwide. The continuing destruction of habitat areas of these apes in combination with increased commercial activities within these areas have led scientists to suggest that the majority of great ape populations may be extinct in our lifetime.

Even if isolated populations were to survive, the long-term viability of great apes is in doubt due to their limited numbers and the fragmentation of their habitat.

The endangered great apes share their habitat with millions of people in West, Central and East Africa and in Southeast Asia. The majority of these people live below the poverty line. There is thus a need to link the welfare of humans and wildlife as central to staging a fight for the survival of the apes.

In May 2001, in response to the current crisis, Dr. Klaus Toepfer, the Former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), launched GRASP - a new approach to save the great apes and their habitat. This approach brought conservation planning initiatives, technical and scientific support for the project to state governments to dovetail with flagship field projects.

Thus GRASP has a unique role to complement existing great ape conservation efforts.

In September 2002, joined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), GRASP was registered as a World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Type II Partnership, a multi-sectoral international initiative.

The GRASP Partnership is a dynamic alliance bringing together governmental and intergovernmental, UN institutional, non-governmental, scientific and academic foundations, local community and private sector interests.

Since its inception, the activities of the GRASP Partnership have helped define what strategy GRASP might adopt to address the threats facing the great apes, given its unique position as a truly international alliance among a diversity of stakeholders.

National Great Ape Survival Plan (NGASP) workshops and support to other planning mechanisms have helped great ape range countries develop conservation strategies.

Information and awareness activities through such media as TV and newspapers articles, publications, documentary films and side events have raised the profile of the plight facing the great apes at the global level. UNEP, UNESCO and donor funding of non-governmental partner projects has involved local communities and achieved much in the field.

GRASP Patrons Jane Goodall, Russell Mittermeier, Toshisada Nishida, Richard Leakey and Richard Wrangham have provided their world-renowned expertise and reputation to bring further attention to the plight facing the great apes.

Source: Unep Grasp website


Heart-stopping video emerges after a respected British naturalist narrowly survives a shocking charge in the jungle By AMY OLIVER FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY June 2016

Ian Redmond commends Malawi’s ivory burn announcement by Kate Moore, Programmes Manager, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust for Africa Geographic

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