The man in the photo above has skied over Greenland, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, canoed the Yukon River, cycled through Asia and climbs peaks from the Alps to Yosemite for fun. And Niall McCann’s day job is no less challenging: It brings him face to face with the world’s most dangerous animals. The relentless explorer is also a conservation biologist and the host of the Nat Geo Wild series Biggest & Baddest, premiering Friday at 8/7c.
McCann, the Canadian-born son of biologist parents, grew up in Shrewsbury, England and holds a degree in zoology from the University of Bristol and a PhD from Cardiff University. Filming Lost in the Amazon: The Enigma of Colonel Percy Fawcett for History Channel UK led to his current gig, which chronicles his very close encounters with such predators as crocodiles, anacondas, lions, and Bengal tigers. Most of us would run the other way, but for a guy who’s been obsessed with wildlife ever since he was a kid, it’s a dream job.
Here, he shares some of his most memorable experiences—and what he’s learned from them.
“There is no point in fixating on how dangerous a situation is. You’ll simply distract yourself from the most important thing, which is getting through that situation unscathed.”
Face your fears
“My fascination with snakes goes way back and must be related to the obvious fear that snakes elicit in all of us. I wanted to overcome that fear and get to know how they move and how they operate.”