The Last Panda by George B. Schaller

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Dependent on a shrinking supply of bamboo, hunted mercilessly for its pelt, and hostage to profiteering schemes once in captivity, the panda is on the brink of extinction. Here, acclaimed naturalist George Schaller uses his great evocative powers, and the insight gained by four and a half years in the forests of the Wolong and Tangjiahe panda reserves, to document the plight of these mysterious creatures and to awaken the human compassion urgently needed to save them.

"No scientist is better at letting the rest of us in on just how the natural world works; no poet sees the world with greater clarity or writes about it with more grace. . . . Anyone who genuinely cares for wildlife cannot help being grateful to Schaller—both for his efforts to understand the panda and for the candor with which he reports what has gone so badly wrong in the struggle to save it from extinction."—Geoffrey C. Ward, New York Times Book Review


"Schaller's book is a unique mix of natural history and the politics of conservation, and it makes for compelling reading. . . . Having been in giant panda country myself, I found some of the descriptions of the animals and habitats breathtaking. Schaller describes the daily routines and personalities of the giant pandas he studied (as well as their fates thereafter) as though they were his blood relatives. . . . Schaller's brilliant presentation of the complexities of conservation makes his book a milestone for the conservation movement."—Devra G. Kleiman, Washington Post Book World


"George Schaller's most soulful work, written in journal style with many asides about a creature who evolved only two to three million years ago (about the same time as humans). . . . Here, conservation biology confronts an evil that grinds against hope and shatters the planet's diversity. Written with hope."—Whole Earth Catalog


"A nicely crafted blend of wildlife observation and political-cultural analysis. . . . The Last Panda is a sad chronicle of our failure, so far, to stem the decline of the animal that may be the most beloved on the planet."—Donald Dale Jackson, Smithsonian
 

About George B. Schaller

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George Schaller is vice president of Panthera and a senior conservationist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, both organizations based in New York, as well as adjunct professor with the Center of Nature and Society at Peking University in China. He has explored many remote corners of the planet, conducted wildlife research and conservation work in over twenty countries, and is a prolific author. His field work began in 1952 in Alaska and he was part of a 1956 expedition to northeastern Alaska which led to the establishment of America's largest protected area, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Spending most of his time in the field in Asia, Africa, and South America, Schaller has done seminal studies and helped protect some of the planet's most iconic animals. These range from mountain gorillas in the present Democratic Republic of the Congo, tigers in India, lions in Tanzania, and jaguars in Brazil, to giant pandas and wildlife on the Tibetan Plateau in China, and snow leopards and various wild sheep and goats in the Himalaya of Nepal and Pakistan. This work has been the basis for his scientific and popular writings, including 16 books, among them The Year of the Gorilla, The Deer and the Tiger, The Serengeti Lion (a National Book Award winner), The Last Panda, A Naturalist and other Beasts, and Tibet Wild. He has also helped to establish about a dozen protected areas in various countries. Over the years, he has received a number of international conservation awards, including the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and the Indianapolis Prize in the USA, China's Baogang Environmental Prize, Japan's Cosmos Prize, India's Salim Ali Conservation Award, and the gold medal of the World Wildlife Fund. With his wife Kay a close colleague in the field, they raised their two sons while on projects in various countries.
 
Published September 14, 1994 by University of Chicago Press. 312 pages
Genres: Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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The prognosis is uncertain (fewer than one thousand pandas remain in the wild, and a live panda draws over $100,000 on the black market), says wildlife expert Schaller in this popularization of his years of panda fieldwork in China (first described in more scholarly fashion in his The Giant Panda...

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Smithsonian

When Schaller left the panda project in the mid-1980s he still was not sure whether China's government and scientific leaders were fully committed to saving the panda.

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