MOUNT Kilimanjaro’s snowy summit has inspired film and literature for decades.
But experts think sights such as this are in danger of being destroyed by the creeping effects of climate change.
A UK team, Climb for Change, is climbing the mountain later this month to draw attention to the effect that global climate change is having on cultural heritage sites, Matt Mackenzie reports.
Prominent wildlife conservation expert Ian Redmond, of Rodborough, will be part of this team planning to scale Africa’s largest mountain to raise awareness of the way in which man-made climate change is threatening to destabilise our ecosystem.
The climb is being organised by the Plant A Tree Today Foundation, and Ian is also raising money for the Stroud-based Ape Alliance as well as the Born Free Foundation, Wild Futures, the Gorilla Organisation and the Orangutans Foundation.
The team sets off on the climb on Sunday, July 27, aiming to reach the summit some time in early August.
Ian’s work in conservation saw him receive an OBE in 2006 and has taken him to heights of around 11,000 feet in the past. But Kilimanjaro stands almost twice that at 19,341 feet, presenting an incredible challenge.
Ian began his career as a wildlife consultant in 1975 after graduating from Keele University and becoming a research assistant to renowned American primatologist Dian Fossey.
He also acted as a consultant on Michael Apted’s 1988 Fossey biopic, Gorillas in the Mist, starring Sigourney Weaver, following Fossey’s murder three years earlier in 1985.
He is now a writer, lecturer, documentary maker and wildlife tourism guide and has worked with the UN on a number of conservation initiatives.
He chairs and serves on the boards of various wildlife charities and has spent part of every year since 1975 in the field working in conservation in Africa.
Ian, recently returned from Uganda, where he attempted to raise awareness of animal conservation in rural schools using a pedal-powered cinema invented by ex-Marling School pupil James Beecher, of Stroud.
Ian’s main aim in climbing Kilimanjaro is not only to highlight the dangers of climate change but to show how without animal conservation, rapid and destructive climate change is all the more likely to occur.
Failing to protect Africa’s animal population, he says, will simply cause the entire ecosystem to degenerate.
“Animal conservation is as much a climate issue as a welfare issue,” says Ian.
“There needs to be an awareness that animals are vital to the ecosystem.
"Their loss would be a tragedy in itself but would even more so be an environmental disaster.
“If we turn off the ecosystem, then we will suffer the consequences here in the future,” he said.
If you would like to make a donation to this challenge go to: http://www.justgiving.com/teams/PATTclimb, where further details are also available.