Updated: May 11, 2018
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom television show during the 1970s inspired so many people I have interviewed, including myself, to fall in love with wildlife. If you aren’t familiar with this show, (maybe you are too young!) it was a show bringing adventure, exotic animals, and different cultures into our American living rooms every week. Marlin Perkins, a zoologist, and his partner, Jim Fowler, also a zoologist, would travel the world to educate us about an exotic animal in a faraway land. Often, I believe, Jim was usually the one to risk life and limb to get close to some dangerous animal. This show was my gateway “drug” show to reading Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen, watch Born Free over and over and learning to sketch leopards and elephants in great detail.
Our podcast guest May 15th, Dr. Andrew Stein, Assistant Professor at Landmark College, was also influenced by Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom and other wildlife documentaries growing up in central Massachusetts. He didn’t believe he would ever have the chance to visit places in Africa to see big cats, elephants and more. That all changed when entered the School of Field Studies and was able to travel to Kenya. It was in Kenya where he began to see a confluence of his interests with culture, wildlife, and conservation.
Now Dr. Stein is one of the leading experts in leopard conservation. His passion drove him to create CLAWS Conservancy in 2014; where CLAWS stands for - Communities Living Among Wildlife Sustainably. CLAWS is collaborating with many communities in Africa and the US where there is potential human-wildlife conflict. His goal is to problem solve with these communities to find a way where wildlife and people can coexist peacefully.
Current CLAWS Projects (click on links to find out more):
Below are some field pictures provided by Dr. Andrew Stein.