Jun 12, 2010

A Naturalist and Other Beasts

Tales from a Life in the Field
by George Schaller

I'd long heard of the great scientist and naturalist Geroge Schaller but somehow not read any of his books yet. This one caught my eye on a library shelf. It's a collection of short pieces about different studies the author conducted with wildlife, describing his time spent observing the animals and working with conservation efforts. Some were originally articles from other publications, others excerpts from his previous books, and they span several decade's work, from 1964 to 1993.

From the African plains to Brazilian jungles, Asian forests and remote Tibetan steppes, the author takes you around the world with him as he strives to find oft-elusive animals, learn more about them and work with local people to protect them. Among the many wildlife species featured here are giant pandas, great blue herons, the capybara, jaguars, mongolian gazelles, tigers, snow leopards, the pika, takin (an animal I never knew existed until a few months ago when I saw these posts online) and chiru- a Tibetan antelope which, interestingly enough, was also featured in the unicorn book I recently abandoned (its horns long valued and sold individually as alicorn). Whether it was the descriptions of the actual difficulties and tedium involved in biology fieldwork, wondrous close encounters with magnificent wild animals or fascinating new facts learned, this book was engaging all the way through. And of course, it added a slew of new titles to my TBR.

Rating: 3/5 ........272 pages, 2007

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  1. I'm embarrassed to say I've never heard of Schaller. I feel like I am so far removed from this field, but I like reading books about people's jobs, so I may have to pick this one up!

  2. I've really only heard of him from other books I've read about naturalists- but he always gets high mention. Very much a prominent man in the field.


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