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University News

Niall McCann, Adventure-Biologist, to Speak on Conservation at GCU

Man with snow on his face

Former Host of Nat Geo Wild TV series Biggest and Baddest Shares His Adventures in Free Lecture

Georgian Court University welcomes adventure-biologist Niall McCann, Ph.D., for “Notes from the Conservation Front Line,” on Tuesday, November 15, at 6:00 p.m. in the Casino Auditorium on the Lakewood campus. Dr. McCann will take the audience on an amazing journey as he describes his often dangerous work researching and protecting endangered species in remote and challenging environments. He’ll describe how he’s been able to bridge the gap between science and policy, and how his work in human-wildlife conflict has led him to develop a career in anti-poaching.

Tiny yellow frog

In addition to his work in research and conservation, Dr. McCann hosted two seasons of the Nat Geo Wild TV series Biggest and Baddest, which focused on human-wildlife conflict. In filming the show, Dr. McCann participated in medical interventions on mountain gorillas with the Gorilla Doctors, worked with the Bronx Zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Society to collar and track the rare tree-climbing lions of Ishasha, and joined rangers of Uganda’s Wildlife Authority to trap giant man-eating Nile crocodiles and relocate them to a national park hundreds of miles away. While filming the series, Dr. McCann was charged by a tiger, treed by an elephant, and dragged down a sandy bank by an anaconda. In addition to being hugely enjoyable, working on the show highlighted to Dr. McCann the importance of working with communities to mitigate human-wildlife conflict all around the world.

Dr. McCann’s Academic Studies Led to His Career in Conservation

Man smiling in front of a crocodile

In 2003, while still an undergraduate, Dr. McCann ran an expedition to Bolivia to study giant otters. The experience gained in running this expedition with its complex logistics within a challenging country was hugely important in shaping his career. In 2009, he returned to South America to conduct the first biodiversity survey of the upper Rewa River in Guyana. Travelling by boat over 150 miles upriver from the last Amerindian settlement, Dr. McCann and colleague Dr. Rob Pickles uncovered a treasure trove of incredible animals: giant otters, massive anacondas, and charismatic tapir. On returning from this expedition, Dr. McCann and Dr. Pickles lobbied to protect the area from gold mining, Dr. McCann’s first experience of “real” conservation work.

Dr. McCann has worked extensively in Honduras, where he completed his Ph.D. on the conservation of Baird’s tapir. Honduras is the least-studied country in Central America in terms of biodiversity; it also has the highest murder rate in the world and a complicated political and social environment that make working there highly challenging and extremely rewarding. Dr. McCann lobbied the government to protect a threatened national park, and is still involved in conservation work in the country today.

Recently, Dr. McCann became more involved in anti-poaching operations, and in 2016, he helped establish National Park Rescue, a charity dedicated to the protection of Africa’s wildlife, currently experiencing slaughter on an unprecedented scale. Dr. McCann has dedicated his career to combating the rampant corruption and ruthless poaching that threatens many of the world’s most charismatic species, and what is certain is that there will be many more adventures ahead of him!

Dr. McCann’s presentation is free by contacting GCU’s Office of Conferences and Special Events at fcrpvnyriragf@trbetvna.rqh or 732-987-2263.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,200 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 14 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by Money.com and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at HazletGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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