I’ve been fascinated by George Schaller since reading his name in the Peter Matthiessen classic “The Snow Leopard,” which has been on my top ten list for decades. I’m a photographer, so my first response to both of them men was “Damnit, life suck and isn’t fair, what about MY expedition to look for something?” Schaller has spent more time in the field than I have been alive and is one of those authors who will light a fire under your ass.
Schaller’s “Tibet Wild: A Naturalist’s Journey on the Roof of the World” records in detail his three decades exploring the remote Tibetan Plateau. The kind of place that chews up and spits out the Instagramers of the world. Posers need not apply, especially when considering WHEN Schaller undertook these voyages. Pre digital comforts, pre-roads in many cases, but a place ripe with hardship, obstacles and undeniable, diesel-freezing temperatures.
Chiru, snow leopards, Tibetan brown bear, or the tiny pika, Schaller goes and goes and goes to record what remains. As you would imagine, there are victories and there are defeats that continue to this day. This region has haunted my psyche for decades but due to my being a lazy, chicken shit, I have to yet to pack and bag and see for myself. Get any of the Schaller’s books but beware you might start contemplating quitting your job and joining a global conservation group.