S1 Episode 8: George Schaller
In this two part interview, we talk with George Schaller, widely regarded as the planet’s greatest living field biologist.
Some follow a career in wildlife biology and dream of discovering new species. Others of uncovering new information on our most charismatic animals. While some yearn to make a genuine impact on conservation. George Schaller has made enormous contributions in all of these areas in a career spanning 70 years.
His pioneering work with Mountain Gorillas showed the world for the first time that they were a gentle – not savage – species, and it paved the way for Dian Fossey to begin her work. He went on to work with a set of mammalwatching bucket list species from Snow Leopards and Tigers through Giant Pandas and Gobi Bears. In the early 1990s he helped discover the Saola – the “Asian unicorn” – in Laos, and one of the most remarkable species discoveries of the 20th Century. He has also helped set up over 20 protected areas including the 200,000 square mile Changtang Nature Reserve on the Tibetan plateau.
He has won countless awards and written 15 books, one of which – on Lions – won the USA’s National Book Award. Legendary does not do him justice.
This is a two part interview. Here is an article on Schaller’s life and career. He has written hundreds of magazine articles and Op Eds, like this one with Peter Zahler (who we interviewed in Episode 6 of this podcast) and there are many more references in his wikipedia entry. Here is short video about his many achievements.His latest book, Into Wild Mongolia, is published by Yale. Here is more information on the Wildlife Conservation Society’s work to protect the few Saola that may be left in Laos and Vietnam. Cover art Part 1: a local herdsman and George Schaller with a Snow Leopard they are about to radio collar in Mongolia. Cover Art Part 2: Schaller and a Giant Panda.