Sunday, October 01, 2006

George Schaller: Conservation and Cryptozoology

In this interview with a leading Indian newspaper, The Hindu, Dr. George Schaller has a lot to say. Schaller, one of the world's best-known conservationists and a biologist of great accomplishment, makes, as one would expect, a passionate plea for conservation of species like the tiger and lands like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. What may be surprising is his view of a very controversial topic, cryptozoology.
Schaller has played a role in describing several new or extremely rare species of mammals. He thinks the yeti and sasquatch are, while seemingly doubtful, still worthy of study. "There are so many human-like creatures in different places. But after all these years there is not a single bone, a single hair. There is no physical evidence other than tracks. There is one film, taken in 1960, and it has been played endlessly for years analyzed, but they can't say it is fake. A hard-eyed look is absolutely essential." [Editor's note: Either Schaller misremembered, or a typo crept into the story, since the film he is referring to is from 1967.]
"I'm not one to say that something does not exist. Look at the Himalayan area. ...People said that the Javan Rhino was extinct. We started talking to local people and one of them said that a rhino was killed recently. He brought out a horn that was selling for a very high price. Local people know a lot, you have to ask the right questions."

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