After receiving a B.S. in Range Resource Management (now named Rangeland Ecology and Management) from Oregon State University, Bill Wallauer joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to an elephant conservation project in the Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania. He walked daily wildlife transects, counting large game and predators in an effort to assess the general health of the ecosystem.
In 1989, during his Peace Corps assignment, Bill met Jane Goodall through a mutual friend. He spent time in Jane's house in Dar es Salaam, helping to organize some of the Gombe chimpanzee data. After Bill finished his Peace Corps work he returned to Tanzania to work for Jane as a chimpanzee habituator.
One day, Jane decided that Bill would be the best person to attempt to capture a wild chimpanzee birth on videotape. Bill followed the chimp, Fifi, every day for more than a month, collecting detailed behavioral data, and waiting for her to give birth. When Ferdinand was finally born, Bill collected detailed data on what proved to be a difficult birth. A few months later he successfully recorded a second chimps birth, Gaia, on video.
Bill proved to be a natural with a camera, and Jane decided that he should continue to follow chimps, recording their daily behavior on video.
Visiting filmmakers started to recognize Bill's talent and began to recruit him as a cameraman and consultant for many wildlife films that were being shot at Gombe. Bill was a consultant for the IMAX film released in 2002. He has since amassed an unprecedented visual database of chimpanzee behaviors.
Recently, Bill shared a wonderful letter with one of our long time Professors. Join us in reading along and catching up with Range Department Alum, Bill Wallauer.
"I have been having a wonderful time the past 17 years in Tanzania. Where has the time gone? Most of what I do is research oriented. I collect the life-histories of the Gombe Chimpanzees on video to accompany the long-term written data. It is tremendously fun work, never are two days the same. Working with Jane is fantastic, as well. She is an inspiring person.
I have worked on about 35 film projects over the years. The latest was a two hour special on Animal Planet called 'Chimp Family Fortunes'. It followed the lives of the Gombe chimps over the past six years. The next to look out for is the chimp sequence in part 10 of the upcoming Planet Earth series on Discovery Channel. I spent nearly 80 days in Uganda filming male territorial behavior and warfare. Fascinating! My role at the moment is, in part, bridging the gap between the science and the general public, through lectures and films. I also work closely with the employees of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA).
I truly enjoyed your field trips and classes and, despite my career turn to primatology and film-making, I carry (and tap in to) my experiences at OSU with me. One of the most valuable aspects of my education at OSU was the cultural diversity within the Range Department. Having grown up in rural Oregon, it was fascinating to meet and work with people from other continents.
With best regards,