November 20, 2014
A Life in the Wild: George Schaller’s Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts by Pamela S. Turner
A Life in the Wild:
George Schaller’s Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts
by Pamela S. Turner
Melanie Kroupa Books
For those not familiar with Schaller’s name, he is a pioneer in animal studies and conservation. Schaller was among the earliest scientists to study a variety of wild animals without shooting and skinning them. Instead, he observed them closely and studied their environment. He got to know the other animals that shared their world and noted how a balance kept them and the countryside healthier.
The first great beast that Schaller studied was the gorilla. Sitting near the animals, watching them interact and feed, Schaller discovered that they weren’t the dangerous, violent monsters people believed them to be.
Next he studied tigers in India, even coming face-to-face with a tigress and sitting up in a tree while several young tigers lounged around the base. He learned how much game tigers took and how they supplemented this with livestock. He studied how much land each animal needed and how these creatures, called loners, crossed paths and interacted.
From lions to snow leopards and pandas to wild antelope and asses, he learned that to ensure that these animals would exist for future observers to study, he had to devote time to conservation, encouraging people and governments to set land aside for the use of animals alone.
Turner’s book tells a lot about Schaller’s science but the tone is conversational and easy to digest. The book comes in at just under 100 pages. Less able readers could easily focus on one chapter while rabid readers will find themselves turning page after page and reading the entire book. This would make an excellent gift for your future scientist or your wild life lover.