New Mandala readers who follow efforts to implement a conservation agenda in mainland Southeast Asia are probably already aware of the work of Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. He has been mentioned on this site a few times in the past. But, if the New Mandala daily traffic summary is anything to go by, a lot of other people have just learned of Rabinowitz and his long-running efforts to save tigers in northern Burma’s Kachin State.
As a consequence, lots of blogs are now filling up with Rabinowitz-related material. One example has a particularly memorable opening gambit. Reconciliation Ecology begins its discussion of the rights and wrongs of doing environmental work alongside dictators with the line: “As an elitist and a conservationist, I was excited to learn that Stephen Colbert…”. That blog’s long reflection on freedom and ecology, Rabinowitz and ethics, is well worth a visit. And, more generally, it looks like Rabinowitz has more than a few new fans. And let’s forget that he was, as an aside, also featured in a recent National Geographic piece on wildlife survival after Cyclone Nargis.
He’s not just a TV star.
Rabinowitz, the Colbert Report, National Geographic – it all got me thinking. Are there any other academics (of one sort or another) who study mainland Southeast Asia and who have ever (or would ever) get interviewed on a TV show like the Colbert Report? Or even interviewed by National Geographic? Obviously Rabinowitz does work that has appeal to a huge audience. Ecology, and particularly big cats, is sexy stuff. Surely, there must be (or have been) others with their name up in lights. Or is Rabinowitz one of a kind? Is that a good thing?