Sir David highlights gorilla plight

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough is using technology to help fulfil a sick friend's wish in a remote African jungle more than 30 years ago.

The renowned British naturalist launched a global crowdfunding campaign to raise £110,000 to save mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

The method involves going online and encouraging a mass of people, or crowd, to directly fund a cause collectively.

Sir David said his fight to save the mountain gorillas began when he first travelled to Rwanda in 1978 to film their plight in the BBC's Life On Earth series.

It was there he met American zoologist Dian Fossey, who convinced him to take up the fight to stop poachers killing gorillas.

Poachers were selling their skulls as trophies and their hands as ash trays, he said.

"Before we left, Dian was on her sick bed and I went to thank her and she said 'please, please, please help spread the news'," Sir David said. "'There are only 200 of them left in the wild', so I promised I would do something."

Sir David said when he returned he sought the help of Fauna and Flora International, which began work to hire security guards to protect gorilla populations and launch education and tourism programmes for the local population to understand the value of preserving the primates' habitat.

He said gorilla populations began to grow, but the work was not over.

"It was a success story, but that doesn't mean it's an automatic success story," he said. "Work still needs to be done."

Sir David said crowdfunding would help bring the gorilla's plight to a global audience.

A crowdfunding conference, the first of its kind, will be held in London tomorrow (November 1).

Organiser Barry James said the event would spead the benefits of crowdfunding for not only charity, but business and medical research as well.

"Crowdfunding is revolutionising how businesses are created," he said.

"Making them more people-centred, enabling and supporting the causes the crowd are passionate about.

"It's rebooting funding as we know it."

Sir David and Fauna and Flora International hope to reach their target by December 11.

The campaign will be run by crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

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