Luke Dollar lived in Madagascar and studied lemurs and their predators. He is now part of the Big Cats Initiative.
Photograph by Rebecca Hale, National Geographic Creative
Luke Dollar is also known for his work researching fossas in Madagascar. Illustration by Chris Rooney
Illustration by Chris Rooney
Luke Dollar, National Geographic Emerging Explorer, conservationist and scientist, spent many years in Madagascar studying lemurs and a predator called the fossa. He is now working on the Big Cats Initiative. The initiative is an effort to stop the decline in all big cat populations, but the first big push will be to halt the lion population decline by 2015. Tigers and other big cats will quickly join the spotlight. National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert and their years of attention on lion population decline have been the “cat-alyst,” says Dollar.
Big Cats is “an action-oriented, grassroots level program that has a fast response strategy in attempting solutions in all the places where big cats are,” says Dollar. "The initiative and many of the new Missions' programs endeavor to do something because it makes a difference. It’s about what you leave behind, not what you record. In the past we have recorded lots of information on lions [that may] have implications for conservation, but it begs the question, who implements these recommendations?” The Big Cats Initiative hopes to answer that question.
JOB: Conservationist and scientist
WHAT HE DOES: Saves Big Cats and is a college professor.
GREW UP IN: Rural Alabama
FAVORITE PASTIME AS A KID: Exploring the woods or out on the farm, and acting on the professional stage.
HEROES: My step Dad, Atticus Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird) and Indiana Jones
TYPICAL DAY: I am up at 5 a.m. most days. I am a university professor.
FOR FUN: I play with my dogs, train them, and play with my son.
FAVORITE PLACE TO EXPLORE: Nile [river] in Uganda, and white water rafting down it.
BEST ADVICE: If you can conceive it, you can achieve it.
TRAVEL GEAR: A sense of humor, soy sauce, and toilet paper.
HOW CAN KIDS HELP: Don’t take “no” for an answer to help the environment.