Very few individuals can truthfully say that their work impacts every person on earth. Forrest Galante is one of them. As a wildlife biologist and conservationist, Galante devotes his life to studying, rediscovering, and protecting our planet’s amazing lifeforms. Part memoir, part biological adventure, Still Alive celebrates the beauty and determined resiliency of our world, as well as the brave conservationists fighting to save it.
In his debut book, Galante takes readers on an exhilarating journey to the most remote and dangerous corners of the world. He recounts miraculous rediscoveries of species that were thought to be extinct and invites readers into his wild life: from his upbringing amidst civil unrest in Zimbabwe to his many globetrotting adventures, including suspenseful run-ins with drug cartels, witch doctors, and vengeful government officials. He shares all of the life-threatening bites, fights, falls, and jungle illnesses. He also investigates the connection between wildlife mistreatment and human safety, particularly in relation to COVID-19.
Still Alive is much more than just a can’t-put-down adventure story bursting with man-eating crocodiles, long-forgotten species rediscovered, and near-death experiences. It is an impassioned, informative, and undeniably inspiring examination of the importance of wildlife conservation today and how every individual can make a difference.
Thoughts and Themes: It’s been a while since I’ve read non-fiction on audiobook and this book reminds me of why I enjoy it so much. There really was so much that I enjoyed about this book and I think hearing it added to that experience.
I really enjoyed hearing about the animals that were named extinct but were actually still alive just in hard to find locations. I loved hearing about those locations that the author had to travel to and all he did to find these animals. I also really enjoyed how the author explains his reasoning for finding the animals and how it goes beyond prestige for him. This book made me really want to watch the shows he mentions in this book.
Something else that I enjoyed about this book was the way in which it ended and brought up the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to the rest of this book. I thought it left the reader with a lot to think about which is something that I always look for when reading non-fiction. It also left me wanting to know more about certain topics and searching for answers.
Writing Style: This book is told in first person through the perspective of the author which really adds to the story. This point of view makes it feel like you are on these adventures with the author. This was something that I really enjoyed about the book and this piece kept me listening and wanting to start it over once I was done with the story.
From Forrest Galante’s Website
Forrest Galante was born on March 31st, 1988 in California, but within the first few months of his life moved to Harare, Zimbabwe. He grew up on a productive farm that cultivated luxury alstroemeria flowers, various fruits and was home to a myriad of livestock and wild African animals. As a child, Galante’s favorite pastimes included catching snakes, fishing in the dam, breeding guinea pigs and playing rugby. When he wasn’t enjoying life on the farm, his mother would take him and his sister on safari in the African bush. As one of Africa’s first female safari guides and bush pilots, Galante’s mother took her children to explore some of the most remote parts of Africa, collecting artifacts and observing wildlife. Galante was enthralled by all wildlife and knew he would one day pursue a career with animals. At age 14, Galante was the youngest person to ever lead an international canoe safari down the Zambezi River.
In 2001, Galante’s world was turned upside down when terrible political turmoil in Zimbabwe caused their farm to be seized. They were forcefully evicted from their home in the middle of the night and fled the country of Zimbabwe. With only a suitcase each and a couple hundred dollars, Galante and his family returned to California to the small town of Cayucos, and later Santa Barbara.
Galante turned to free diving and spearfishing as a way to adjust to his new life in California. Over time and as his skills developed, Galante made a name for himself in the underwater community. He traveled to various countries to participate in spearfishing events and today holds six pole spear world records. Along the way, Galante also got certified as a SCUBA dive master, a 100-ton ship captain, and an EMT. In 2009, he graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in biology; special emphasis in marine biology and herpetology.
The year after his college graduation, Galante took a year to travel the world. He visited 46 of the most remote places on earth to work with and photograph rare wildlife. Along his journey, he caught crocodiles, dove with white sharks, photographed venomous snakes, outsmarted a startled hippo, dodged a cyclone, and had countless other adventures—but also was hospitalized multiple times.
Upon returning to California, Galante pursued a career in high-risk wildlife biology fieldwork, always focusing on animals on the brink of extinction. In 2014, he participated in Discovery’s hit show, Naked and Afraid and scored one of the highest PSRs (primate survival rating) ever on the show. Galante’s hands-on approach to wildlife, passion for nature and extraordinary background eventually led to the development of his own television show, Extinct or Alive, on Animal Planet. The show followed Galante as he travels the globe searching for animals he believes have wrongfully been deemed extinct.
Since 2018, Galante has captured evidence of the existence of eight animals once believed to be extinct. To learn more about his discoveries, read here.
Galante continues to conduct field expeditions and surveys, working not just with believed-extinct animals but also with a wide range of other wildlife. His mission is to inspire and educate people about animals and adventure through the media, including hosting programs on Animal Planet, on-camera expert interviews, and production of his own wildlife and natural history shows. He also communicates his mission through his active social media presence, with frequent posts to a large following.