Friday, March 27, 2009

The Naturalist and other Beasts: George B. Schaller

By Jocelyn Perez

He has done it yet again! World renowned author, field biologist and vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, George Beals Schaller, has truly proved his worth to the conservationist community with his book The Naturalist and other Beasts. Although it is not necessarily a new release, it is one of Schaller’s latest works, compiling some of his most noted articles, essays and intriguing excerpts from his previous publications.

Within the passages are tales of his experiences in the field, firsthand accounts of his interactions with various threatened or endangered species, including mountain gorillas and Serengeti lions. He also elaborates, on many occasions, the need for humankind to correct the reckless consumer lifestyle and have more regard for the other inhabitants with whom we share this planet.

Schaller’s accounts take us across the globe, from the woodlands of North America to the plains of Africa to the mountains of China. His words place the reader in the middle of the scene, right by his side, listening to a stealthy tiger’s roar or the flapping of a great heron’s wings. This brilliant storyteller is sure to both enlighten and entertain animal lovers and budding conservationists alike.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting the Mr. Schaller at the Fairfield Osborne Conference that was held in his honor. His achievements are widespread but not necessarily acknowledged by many outside the conservationists’ community. For people who are not familiar with his work, he details of his major projects The Naturalist such as his involvement in the foundation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the 1950’s, and how many of his studies, like those on the snow leopard and Chinese giant panda, set off chain reactions and led to the development of new methods, culminating in the establishment of preservation programs.

Schaller believes that preservation and a long term commitment to our furry, feathery, or even scaly comrades are needed, if we wish future generations to enjoy their existence. Currently in his late seventies, Schaller continues to study endangered species such as Marco Polo sheep in Afghanistan and often revisits his old study grounds to make crucial updates. Upon meeting this great man, I told him how he truly was an inspiration to us all. Now it is up to us to stand up and continue his mission, being passionate about the cause and securing a healthy planet for all.

1 comment:

  1. It's a shame that the economy has eclipsed Obama's environmental agenda. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.


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