George Schaller has been described as one of the finest wildlife biologists of all time. At the age of 26 he traveled to Central Africa to study and live with Mountain Gorillas, embarking on the first field study of those gentle giants. Over the next fifty years, George Schaller’s field work took him from Africa to the Tibetan Plateau. Most remarkably, Schaller’s dogged research continually inspired subsequent wildlife protection wherever he pitched his tent across the globe.
Many, many years ago the Land Library purchased our first Schaller book, somewhere along the 8-miles of books at New York City’s venerable Strand Book Store. The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator-Prey Relations (pictured above) was one of the first studies of the lion’s social life, and it set us on the path to gather all of George Schaller’s works. It’s been a happy and rewarding pursuit, culminating most recently with Schaller’s 2007 memoir, A Naturalist and Other Beasts: Tales From a Life in the Field (also pictured above) — a prized book on our shelves.
Learn more about each chapter of Schaller’s remarkable life, in books such as these!
A Life in the Wild: George Schaller’s Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts by Pamela S. Turner (from our Waterton Canyon Kids Nature Library), The Giant Pandas of Wolong by George Schaller, Hu Jinchu, Pan Wenshi & Zhu Jing, The Mountain Gorilla: Ecology and Behavior.
For the last many years, George Schaller’s field studies have centered on China, Tibet, and the greater Himalayan region, captured in books such as these: Stones of Silence: Journeys in the Himalayas, Tibet’s Hidden Wilderness: Wildlife and Nomads of the Chang Tang Reserve, Wildlife of the Tibetan Steppe.
Before the Himalayas, before Africa, came Alaska’s Brooks Range. In 1956, as a 23-year old graduate student, George Schaller joined an Alaskan wildlife expedition led by the legendary biologist Olaus Murie:
“Olaus encouraged George’s wanderings. He believed a scientist should gather his or her data on foot, every sense alert, notebook and camera in hand….For George, the Murie expedition was to become the model for the rest of his career: exploration, rigorous science, passionate conservation, and a deep, heartfelt connection to wild places and wild animals.” — from A Life in the Wild by Pamela S. Turner.
Fifty years later, in the summer of 2006, George Schaller returned to Alaska’s north in the company of three fresh young graduate students — the next generation of field biologists to come!