The legendary biologist tries to save a park, discover new species, educate local children, and write a revolutionary new textbook
Image credit: Howard W. French
Edward O. Wilson was still a schoolboy when he decided to devote his life to ants. "I just fell in love with them," he told The Atlantic in 1998, "and have never regretted it."
Over the years, his affection for small insects grew into a fascination with all sciences and humanities. In a March 1998 Atlantic cover story called "Back From Chaos," Wilson, who is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, took issue with academics who stay trapped in a small corner of the universe. He urged them to connect the dots--to find the underlying harmony between all things. "A balanced perspective cannot be acquired by studying disciplines in pieces," he wrote. "Only fluency across the boundaries will provide a clear view of the world as it really is."
Today, in his early 80s, Wilson is still collecting bugs and still reinventing the way humans study the world. For our November 2011 issue, author Howard W. French followed the biologist to Africa and watched him strive to save a park, catalog new species, write a revolutionary textbook, and educate local children. Below are some of French's photos of the boyish octogenarian in action at Mozambique's Gorongosa Park.