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NANPA Oral History Project -

Erwin Bauer

Erwin Bauer

Date of Interview: January 18, 2004
Interviewer: Shirley Nuhn (SN)
Transcriber: Susie Parrent
Length: 72 minutes
(Also present are his wife, Peggy Bauer (PB), and John Nuhn, photo director, National Wildlife magazine)

Track 6: (5:00 min.)

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EB: There a couple of good wildlife sanctuaries. Australia is nice, too, if you like to bang around and get your car and just look. That's a neat place. The pandas in China are interesting, but it's kind of an expensive trip for the short time that you feel that you can stay there. Peggy, I feel like we're missing something.

PB: She asked you what you liked best.

SN: Well, can we go back to the pandas for a second? Where you said that it's a long journey for the short time that you can stay? What do you mean? Is it the Chinese situation, the government, or being able to travel there, what?

EB: Oh, it's something you can't put your finger on. I, we, went on a Joe Van Os trip which made it pretty easy. It was all lined up and everything. But they're constantly trying to skin you anyway (chuckles). Let's say if your trip is to be so many days out with these pandas - none of which are wild - they'll try to get more out of you. "Oh, we can do this now, too, for an extra 50 dollars" or something, you know. In a way these pandas are wild, but in a way they're not at all. They're kept in, what do you call it, some kind of an enclosure there, and I don't think they can walk out at night. In the daytime, they could walk out, walk up the hill and go over to Russia, if they wanted to. But they're kept there by a good supply of food that they like and there isn't any of it close by, so they just have to stay there and eat this good kind of bamboo. And so when you go there, why, you just go out for the day or part of the day with a panda or two and walk around. And if they wanted they could take off, but they don't. So, it's a fine line there.

SN: But they're still available for you to photograph?

EB: Yeah, and they also have a little supply of sugar cane there and they use that. With a little treat of sugar cane, you can get them to do strange stuff.

SN: Okay. Some of the places that you're talking about are huge: India and Australia. What would you pin down in India?

EB: Well, most everybody likes to go for tigers. On account it's - well, let me see - is that the one wild place in the world where you can be guaranteed to see tigers?

PB: That I can think of - Ranthambore.

EB: You might be able. Pretty sure in Nepal, but no, I wouldn't bet on it. Yeah, in India you can be sure to shoot wild tigers - not restricted or restrained in any way. On our last trip we shot 11. We saw that many. But there's more to India than that. You know, there are elephants, buffalos, birds. The timing is important in a lot of these things. If you want to go shoot the nesting birds in the swamp areas, you'd have to go in our fall, which is not the most pleasant time there, but that's when there are masses - hundreds of thousands of birds right in front of you.

SN: You mentioned Nepal. Have you gotten snow leopards? Have you done that?

EB: I was going to tell John about that book of ours [points to book on table]. All the animals in that book are wild, except snow leopards and the cougars. I've never seen a wild snow leopard. I've seen wild cougars, quite a few, and I've even seen and photographed a wild jaguar. But try to sell pictures of it and you can't do it on account of you guys want good pictures (chuckles).

SN: What about Australia? I think of that as being enormous also. What do you like best about that?

EB: Well, it is. Australia. Of course, the attitude of the people...

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