In June 2000, Rick Ridgeway, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and the late renowned wilderness photographer Galen Rowell set out to discover the migration route of the chiru (the tibetan antelope). A feat twice attempted by eminent wildlife biologist George Schaller Ridgeway's team resolved to use their outdoor skills, aluminum rickshaws, and their own two feet to solve this wildlife riddle. A fascinating journey culminating with an inspiring environmental victory, The Big Open recounts a unique and rewarding adventure.
Following the chiru entails a dangerous journey across Tibet's Chang Tang, widely considered the world's most inhospitable environment. Each year the herd travels across this high-altitude rangeland to its breeding ground. After traversing endless miles of remote plain, a treacherous canyon, an arid desert, and a 17,000-foot ascent to a plateau, the four men are rewarded for their effortsthey become the first explorers to witness the chiru giving birth.
The expedition was both unprecedented and urgent. Already vulnerable to predators, the chiru's most formidable threat is human vanitythey are hunted for their fur, which is woven into the world's finest and most expensive wool, shatoosh. The discovery of these birthing grounds provides the information needed to convince the Chinese to safeguard the chiru's habitat within a nature reserve.
"The international effort to save the Tibetan antelope and the 'big open' steppe it inhabits elevates the narrative beyond the usual extreme travel tour to an enthralling and hopeful height."Publishers Weekly
"A fascinating voyage of adventure and urgency."The Oklahoman