It started with a simple conversation at breakfast. We talked to them about travel in India and how they were visiting their son that is working in Bhopal. We offered up some information about festivals that were happening around town and they told us some information about other sites in the area.
The following morning, we exchanged pleasantries and asked about their day. For some reason we started talking about our travel blog and how we are traveling the world indefinitely.
That was when Ian Redmond and his wife decided to join us for breakfast. Dave and I knew that he looked familiar, we just didn’t know where from.
It turns out he is the U.N. Ambassador for the Year of the Gorilla. The YogBlog (Year of the Gorilla Blog) is what he is trying to learn to market. Here is a man that has been in 50 documentaries, advised Sigourney Weaver for Gorilla’s in the Mist, had a character based on him in the film and is in high demand as a public speaker around the world.
And here we are giving him advice on how to tweet.
Now you have to understand, we didn’t know who we were speaking to. We thought that here is a nice couple, maybe we could give them a few pointers to put them in the right direction.
Little did we know that they didn’t need help from little old ThePlanetD since they have the United Nations helping them out. But hey, maybe we could attract another set of readers to their incredible cause.
Initially he told us that he writes a blog about conservation efforts and would like to learn how to draw more traffic to the site. Social Networking is new to many organizations and companies, so maybe sometimes we Bloggers can offer a little bit of help or advice.
As we spoke more we began to realize who he was. We both knew that we had seen him on several documentaries and it dawned on us that we were speaking to a legend.
Digging deeper to learn more.
I just had to dig a bit more so I asked him if he has ever hosted documentaries or been on television. All he said was “yes, in some capacity or another.” We knew he was holding back.
It was a wonderful breakfast.
We learned about gorilla conservation and we learned about the horrible life that temple and festival elephants face in India. As Ian said, it is a dismal existence being revered. Ian has also been involved in successful efforts to ban abusive elephant festivals here in India. If you want to know the plight of the elephant or any of the great apes, he is the leading authority on all.
It made me feel very guilty about taking a ride on Lakshmi the elephant in Hampi. I told him that I saw tears in her eyes during their 500 year celebration and asked if she was actually crying like I thought the might be. He said that elephants do cry and tear up when they are under stress. As to if she was crying and emotional like a human being, we cannot know. But elephants are very intelligent and do feel real emotions.
Did you know that 2009 was the year of the Gorilla?
If you didn’t, well start doing your research now. Mountain Gorillas are starting to thrive and with the conservation efforts in Rwanda and Uganda that Ian pioneered along with his mentor Dian Fossy, they are the only great ape in the world that are actually expanding in numbers.
There is a lot of work to be done however, Gorillas can be found in 10 countries in Africa and they are hunted for their meat. Poaching is a serious problem and they are even killed by farmers for destroying their crops.
Some tribes revere the gorilla and would never hurt it while others revere them for their strength and believe that by eating Gorilla meat they will in turn gain strength themselves. Other people eat gorilla meat simply because it is food.
The Gorilla’s main obstacle in survival however is habitat loss. Great changes need to be done in the world to conserve our natural resources. Ian is now speaking and lecturing on this issue. He has attended climate summits and confrances around the world and is working relentlessly to make a difference.
Meeting Ian and his wife inspired both Dave and I to do more to help this world. We are excellent with travel, photography and video and to hear the trials and tribulations he went through in Africa with film crews not showing up and funding falling through we feel that we could contribute greatly to these causes.
He ended up filming his documentary himself and couldn’t edit on the fly. It is something that we are definitely wanting to look into. We have been searching for our way to make a difference in our travels. We have been searching for a way to help that inspires us and will keep our interest.
Our Giving Back Series has helped us to stay focused on looking for a cause that we are passionate about that all of the other great guest contributors are.
Maybe we have just found our passion and own little way to give back to the world. Maybe we could accompany the experts one day and help them get their word out instantly with our knowledge of the web and video editing.
In the mean time, we will continue to spread the word about environmental issues and wildlife abuse that we witness in our travels and look for ways that we and our readers can help out.