This month through November 15th, UK-based wildlife photographer Ian Wood is auctioning a limited edition mountain gorilla photo signed by the legendary Sir David Attenborough (now on Netflix with A Life on Our Planet). Ian is donating 100% of the auction proceeds to Gorilla Doctors. He’s also selling a collection of limited edition prints on his website (seen throughout this post), with 25% of proceeds donated to Gorilla Doctors.

‘Happy Families’ – Mum, dad and very young baby from the Mubare group of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable forest, Uganda. After nearly nine months of gestation, infants enter the world weighing less than two kilograms and are carefully protected by the mother. © Ian Wood

In celebration of his generosity, Amy, our Chief Marketing Officer, sat down with Ian (virtually of course) to discuss his love of photography, nature and his greatest hope for the future of wildlife conservation.

Edited for Print –

Amy: Ian, what first got you interested in wildlife photography and did you always see it as a conservation ‘tool’ or did that come after spending time in nature and with wildlife?

Ian: It was my love of forests that inspired my photography. I’ve always spent lots of time in forests and my first ever encounter with orangutans in the wild was so incredible that I returned with better camera gear to try and capture the beauty of all of the flora and fauna. I’ve always come at my photography as a conservation tool, and started fundraising for the Orangutan Foundation UK many years ago by using my images and taking people to see wildlife and positive conservation projects.

Amy: What was it like the first time you saw mountain gorillas in the wild?

Ian: That was in Bwindi Impenetrable forest about 20 years ago. It’s one of my favourite forests in the world – trees, streams, lichen and primates! My very first sighting was a silverback walking through the forest followed by his group. Wow! I’ve been lucky to return usually two or three times a year since then, and I love how every mountain gorilla encounter is utterly unique depending on which group you visit and where they are in their habitat.

‘The Silverback’ – The role of a Silverback mountain gorilla is vital as he protects the members of his group and directs activities such as nesting, foraging and migration between seasonal feeding areas. © Ian Wood

Amy: Bwindi is always a surprise and so full a magic! I’ve always thought photography has so much power to bring the wonders of the world directly to people. What conservation actions do you hope your photos will inspire in others?

Ian: I hope that seeing photos of these great apes inspires an interest and a desire for more people to take positive action. Most immediately, sales of my limited edition mountain gorilla prints help support the work of Gorilla Doctors – 100% in the auction and 25% of each print sale. My prints of orangutans and chimpanzees support The Orangutan Foundation UK and the Jane Goodall Institute in the same way.

‘Just Chill Out’ – The Silverback from the Bweza family of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Uganda. Here this commanding animal was extremely relaxed while keeping a watchful eye on his family while I photographed them. © Ian Wood

Amy: Of course, I have to know, how did you first get introduced to the work of Gorilla Doctors? What is it about Gorilla Doctors’ work that inspires you to support our mission through your amazing photos?

Ian: It was a few years ago when I wanted to do something similar to my work with the Orangutan Foundation. From my mountain gorilla photography trips that I run and through research, I knew I wanted to donate to a gorilla NGO. I just liked Gorilla Doctors mission with their frontline conservation work, and attitude that every animal is important. Usually one of the veterinarians from Gorilla Doctors speaks to my group about their work the evening before our first gorilla encounter, which really gives people a unique insight to conservation issues.

‘Innocence’ – A juvenile mountain gorilla from the Kahungye group in Bwindi Impenetrable forest, Uganda. His inquisitiveness got the better of him and he came and sat on a branch for a couple of minutes to observe his human visitor. © Ian Wood

Amy: I’m curious, the ‘Innocence’ photo of the infant mountain gorilla (directly above), where most of the background has been ‘removed’ – what was your artistic intention behind that decision?

Ian: That baby mountain gorilla emerged from a dense bit of forest to sit on a branch and observe me. I exposed for the darker background of the forest and then afterwards brought out the details of the gorilla. Although I like seeing the forest as a background it’s also good to sometimes have nice clean backgrounds for the fine art print market.

Amy: So this is a really light question, what is your greatest hope for the future of nature, wildlife and conservation?

Ian: That humans realize that without nature and wildlife we are nothing. That we wake up to the essential need to protect habitat and treat all animals with respect and humility. May as well aim high, right?!

Online Auction Ends November 15th – Bid Now (international shipping available)

Don’t want to wait? Additional limited edition prints can be purchased directly from Ian’s website!

‘Motherly Love’ – A female from the Bweza family of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Uganda. Females can produce young from the age of ten and will bear between two and six offspring in a lifetime. © Ian Wood

All images are © of Ian Wood, shared with his permission.