Well, one reason we keep discovering new species is that we’re cutting roads into places we’ve never been before. I was once in a rainforest in Ecuador, reporting a story for Smithsonian magazine, when a felled tree came so close to the biologist I was working with that it almost killed him. From that tree he took an orchid he’d never seen before—a specimen that would have been really exciting, except it was a specimen from a habitat that would be gone by the end of the week. So finding new species isn’t necessarily good news. One thing I try to do is to keep this stuff fun and get people engaged in a positive way, because once you see how weird and wonderful this stuff is, you don’t want to lose it.
Of all the animals you’ve written about, which ones would you most like to live among?
The wild dogs. I liked the African wild dogs a lot, the ones living on the Okavango Delta in Botswana. These dogs are very closely connected to the other members of their group, and they get to run through some beautiful countryside and chase fast food, in the form of impalas. They just seemed to live really well. Unfortunately, they’re almost extinct. But maybe if we pay more attention, they’ll survive.