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World class expert in biodiversity gives talk in Camellia Hostel
2011-08-22    Author:Camellia Youth Hoste    Source of information:Camellia Youth Hoste    Page views:7091
Recent photo of John

British zoologist John MacKinnon will have a face-to-face exchange with audiences on Friday, 2 September 2011 at 2 p.m. at Camellia Youth Hostel, 96 Dong Feng Dong Rd, Kunming, Yunnan. Audience interested to attend please email to  for reservation. Admission free.

John has been involved in practical biodiversity conservation for 47 years, has worked in more than 70 different countries and given professional advice to more than 50 countries on the design of their protected areas systems – most notably in Africa and Asia. His involvement in China Biodiversity dates backs to 1986.

John was one of the Asia’s pioneer field primatologists. After working with Jane Goodall on African chimpanzees in the 1960s, he undertook his own PhD on the behavior and ecology orangutans under the supervision of Nobel Laureate ecologist Niko Tinbergen. He was the first biologist to complete field studies of all the great apes and also studied a wide range of gibbons, moneys and tarsiers. His book ”The Ape within Us” greatly changed current perceptions of the unique nature of man and stimulated a lot of further research.

During the 1970s, John became more and more involved in the conservation of biology and became the chief architect of Indonesia’s extensive protected area system whilst coordinating international assistance as both WWF and IUCN Representative to Indonesia. He also found time to write a field guide to the birds of Java and Bali and later expanded it to include the great islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

In the last 100 years, there were 10 new discoveries of mammal in human history, 3 of them were in connection with John.

John caught butterflies in Tanzania in 1963

John with snakes in Indochina.

A quick snap shot of what John has done in China:

  • Following already much applauded career on Biodiversity Conservation in SE Asia, John started working in China 23 years ago as chief architect of the ‘Plan to Save the Giant Panda and its Habitat’ in China
  • John has subsequently written management plans for many of China’s most famous nature reserves – Wolong, Xishuangbanna, Poyang Lake etc.
  • Chief author of the 1996 ‘Biodiversity Review of China’
  • Designed first comprehensive computerized database of China’s protected areas, habitats and species now continued by WCS
  • Author of the ‘Field Guide to the Birds of China’, heralded by the fast-growing generation of Chinese bird watchers as ‘the bible’
  • Co-author of the new ‘Guide to the Mammals of China’
  • 14 years served as Co-chairman of the Biodiversity Working Group of the prestigious China Council for International Cooperation in Environment and Development, in which capacity took part in face to face discussions about environment with three different Chinese premiers
  • John has written many books papers and articles about biodiversity issues in China – a recent example is the lavish book ‘China’s Green Gold’
  • Served on preparation and evaluation missions for many international projects and programmes in China e.g. World Bank, UNDP, WWF, TNC, IUCN
  • Advisor to Chinese Government on the selection and submission of natural sites for World Heritage recognition
  • Based in Beijing and currently works for the large EU-China Biodiversity Programme in charge of ‘Promoting Awareness’ component which provides John with a suitable platform to continue producing books, films and photos of China’s biodiversity
  • Has given many talks and lectures on China’s Biodiversity to universities, conferences and public

On a more personal note, John has a Chinese wife and two children. John has an excellent collection of antique Chinese ceramics. John’s grandfather was the first socialist prime minister of Great Britain and his uncle Malcolm MacDonald was an early friend of Modern China, being the Founding Chairman of the Great Britain – China Committee established in the 1960’s to promote cultural liaison between China and UK and it was Malcolm MacDonald who promised the return of Hong Kong to China in discussions with Zhou Enlai in 1972.







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