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.

It all has to do with an interview that Rabinowitz gave to Stephen Colbert (of Colbert Report fame) earlier in the week.

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?