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Archive for ‘January, 2014’

A Rare and Magnificent Breed ⎢ Wildlife Conservationist ⎢ George Schaller

George Schaller


George Schaller is known as one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation.

He is best known for his work saving gorillas, tigers, pandas, and snow leopards. His 50-year career has been dedicated to species conservation.

Discover magazine says Schaller, “is considered the finest field biologist of our time and the most powerful voice for conservation in more than 100 years.”

He has studied and helped protect species as diverse as mountain gorillas, lions, giant pandas and Tibetan antelopes, as well as trained nationals in their own country to carry on the work. These studies have been the basis for his scientific and popular writings including 16 books, among them, The Deer and the Tiger, The Year of the Gorilla, The Serengeti Lion, The Last Panda, and, most recently, Tibet Wild,  a review of which can be found at:

In 1956, Dr. Schaller joined other conservationists on the Murie expedition to Northeastern Alaska, which resulted in the establishment of the world’s largest wildlife preserve, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In 1959, when Schaller was only 26, he traveled to Central Africa to study and live with the mountain gorillas. Little was known about the life of gorillas in the wild until the publication of The Mountain Gorilla: Ecology and Behavior in 1963, that first conveyed to the general public just how profoundly intelligent and gentle gorillas really are, contrary to then-common beliefs. Schaller recently recounted his epic two-year study in The Year of the Gorilla, which also provides a broader historical perspective on the efforts to save one of humankind’s nearest relatives from the brink of extinction.

The American zoologist Dian Fossey, with assistance from the National Geographic Society and Louis Leakey, followed Schaller’s groundbreaking field research on mountain gorillas. Schaller and Fossey were instrumental in dispelling the public perception of gorillas as brutes, by demonstrably establishing the deep compassion and social intelligence evident among gorillas, and how very closely their behavior parallels that of humans.

Spending most of his time in the field in Asia, Africa, and South America, Schaller has led seminal studies on, and helped protect, some of the planet’s most endangered and iconic animals ranging schaller2-e81491c33ae216b394c8ac11f28c96cf0c757318-s6-c30from the mountain gorilla in present Democratic Republic of the Congo, snow leopards in Mongolia, jaguars in Brazil, giant pandas in China, tigers in India, lions in Tanzania, wild sheep and goats of the Himalaya.

He currently serves as Vice President of Panthera, a foundation dedicated to wild cat conservation. In addition to this position, which he assumed in 2008, Dr. Schaller continues to serve as a Senior Conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Dr. Schaller has also worked as a Research Associate for the American Museum of Natural History and taught as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Rockefeller University, Shanghai’s East China Normal University and Beijing’s Peking University.

In collaboration with Chinese and Tibetan scientists, Dr. Schaller has worked for nearly two decades studying and developing conservation initiatives for the snow leopard, Tibetan antelope, and wild yak, among other species. His most recent conservation projects have been based in Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia, Iran and Tajikistan.

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