David McDannald, "The Last Great Ape"

Air Dates: September 15-17, 2012

This week's guest on REPORT FROM SANTA FE is David McDannald, author of “The Last Great Ape, A Journey Through Africa, and a Fight for the Heart of the Continent.” McDannald tells thrilling stories from on-the-ground with LAGA, the Last Great Ape organization, the first wildlife law enforcement Non-Government Organization (NGO).

“The Last Great Ape” tells of an epic journey through Africa by a man who fell in love with a magical and disappearing world, then transformed himself into a warrior to protect it. McDannald describes the fight against extinction and the tragedy of endangered worlds, not just of animals but of people struggling to hold on to their culture.

Staging heart-pounding, espionage-style raids, LAGA has put countless poachers and traffickers of endangered species behind bars, and have fought back against corruption. MacDannald and his co-author, Ofir Drori, were inspired by Dr. Jane Goodall's statement that if the wild ape trade were not stopped, apes in the wild would be gone in twenty years. LAGA enforces the existing laws to do extraordinary anti-corruption work in Africa and the world, receiving the Future of Nature Award in 2011 and the Year of the Gorilla Award in 2009.

Quotes: “Ofir finally unties the rope from chimp’s waist and the poacher is saying he'll run, he'll run, and Ofir backs away and extends his arms and the chimp comes to him and embraces him and is transformed into a child, essentially. That chimp adopting Ofir as his father set the course for the Last Great Ape.”

“Activism is understanding that you are able to do something as an individual. It doesn't feel like altruism. It feels natural.”

“In the Aid World there is no measurable standard, so here is how you will judge us: How many arrests have we made? How many arrests have lead to prosecution? How many bribing attempts have we thwarted? How many articles have we published to try to encourage people to seek other means of making money to dissuade them from going into the bush meat trade?”