Ian Redmond OBE 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.
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 ecosystems; 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.”
Dr Alex Penn FRSA is an interdisciplinary scientist with a background in evolutionary ecology and complexity science. She has worked extensively on evolution within multispecies communities and the evolution of co-operation in bacterial biofilms and has many previous projects exploring evolution in soil microbial ecosystems. She leads “Community Microbes”, a participatory science project at the University of Surrey. This engages members of the public in running “kitchen sink” microbiology experiments in their homes and gardens to discover what different species of bacteria grow in their soil and how these can change in interaction with human intervention. In her day job she works on modelling industrial ecosystems: creating tools and approaches to steering complex systems for policy and decision makers.
Kate Maple is the co-director of Connected: a film for change and organiser of Embrace the Change, a global webcast about positive, sustainable solutions to contemporary global challenges. Connected began as a journey of discovery embarked on by Paul and Kate Maple who spent a year travelling with their family across Eastern and Central Europe.