Forrest Galante (@ForrestGalante) is a wildlife biologist, conservationist, co-host of The Wild Times Podcast, and TV presenter for Extinct or Alive and Mysterious Creatures. He is also the author of Still Alive: A Wild Life of Rediscovery.
What We Discuss with Forrest Galante:
- What happened when an Amazonian shaman insisted Forrest snort an unknown powder from a monkey bone to keep him safe on the journey ahead?
- How growing up as an almost feral, shoeless child on a farm in Zimbabwe prepared Forrest to survive in the wilderness (and why he doesn’t have an accent anymore).
- How Forrest wound up as a successful contestant on Naked and Afraid, which led him to leave his job as an ant-counting biologist and continue his conservation efforts in a more visible medium: television.
- How does Forrest go about finding animals in the wild that have been presumed extinct?
- How did Forrest and his crew survive trudging around the mangrove jungle on Ramree Island where hundreds of Japanese soldiers had been eaten alive by saltwater crocodiles during WWII?
- And much more…
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Being sent naked into the wilderness to fend for one’s life might make most people cower in fear, but if you grew up like Forrest Galante as a shoeless farm kid in Zimbabwe, trapping hyenas and seeking asylum in Oakland when men with guns came to your house, it’s just another Wednesday.
On this episode, we’re joined by Forrest — author of Still Alive: A Wild Life of Rediscovery and co-host of The Wild Times Podcast — to talk about his stint on Naked and Afraid which led him to realize that television (where he went on to present Extinct or Alive and Mysterious Creatures) would be a more popular medium to spread a message of conservation than his previous gig as an ant-counting biologist. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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At a time when the United States seems to be increasingly disunited by political polarization and calls for violence, is it reasonable to wonder if we’re on the cusp of a civil war? Listen to episode 718: Barbara F. Walter | How Civil Wars Start (And How to Stop Them) to find out!
Thanks, Forrest Galante!
If you enjoyed this session with Forrest Galante, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank Forrest Galante at Twitter!
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And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Still Alive: A Wild Life of Rediscovery by Forrest Galante | Amazon
- Mysterious Creatures | Prime Video
- The Wild Times Podcast
- Forrest Galante | Website
- Forrest Galante | Twitter
- Forrest Galante | Instagram
- Forrest Galante | Facebook
- Extinct or Alive | Prime Video
- What an Ayahuasca Retreat Showed Me about My Life | Vox
- Zimbabwe: A World of Wonders
- Crikey! Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin Wowed Audiences by the Millions! | Australia Zoo
- Are Animals More Dangerous in Africa or Australia? | Quora
- Bradley Steyn | Undercover with Mandela’s Spies Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Robert Mugabe: From Liberator to Tyrant | BBC News
- $100 Trillion Zimbabwe | Tim Ferriss, Twitter
- Charles Lee Tilden Regional Park | East Bay Parks
- Naked and Afraid | Prime Video
- El Niño Correlates With More Shark Sightings | California Diving News
- Forrest Galante on Doing the Impossible in Extinct or Alive | MasterWork
- Coachwhips Found in California | California Herps
- Man vs. Bear | Prime Video
- Patrick DeLuca | IMDb
- Lord Howe Island Stick Insect | Zoos Victoria
- John Harrington III | IMDb
- Forrest Galante is That Guy, But You Have to Respect Him: A Review of Still Alive by Legible | Medium
- When Crocodiles Attack: The Ramree Island Massacre | Atlas Obscura
- Why Predators Exhibit “Hen House Syndrome” or “Surplus Killing” | Backyard Chickens
- Jaws | Prime Video
- Face the Beast | Prime Video
- Andrew Ucles | Twitter
- Forrest Galante with a Crocodile Skull | Instagram
- What Are the World’s Deadliest Animals? | BBC News
- Justin Wren | Twitter
798: Forrest Galante | A Wild Life of Rediscovery
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Peloton for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:04] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:07] Forrest Galante: You know, long story short, 10 days later, I was on a plane to Panama to be on the next season or special or whatever it was of Naked and Afraid. And the only reason I did that was to get a vacation because doing Naked and Afraid, doing 21 days of nude survival in the jungle seemed a lot easier than going back out to the islands and counting ants for another three months. So yeah, it was just something I decided to do for fun, got through that. I was very, very successful on that show. At the time, I think the highest rated survivalist they'd had because they give you like a little score at the end and then, just went back to being a biologist. I didn't think anything of it.
[00:00:46] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional Russian chess grandmaster, arms trafficker, neuroscientist, or hostage negotiator. And each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world and become a better thinker.
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[00:01:52] And today we're talking with my friend Forrest Galante. He's a wildlife explorer, for lack of a better term. He travels to some of the most dangerous places in the world to look for animals that are thought to be extinct. And his childhood was really something else. Grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, came to the US as a refugee, settled in Oakland of all places. Imagine coming from a farm in Zimbabwe and ending up in Oakland, California. Lots of stories from the field, behind the scenes on how wildlife documentaries are shot, rare reptiles, finding extinct species, dick-stinging wasps, and a whole lot more. Here we go with Forrest Galante.
[00:02:28] Just by way of introduction here, what is this about you snorting some kind of crazy jungle drug out of a monkey bone? What's that all about?
[00:02:36] Forrest Galante: So when we were in the Amazon, we went there to look for this extinct crocodilian or believed extinct crocodilian, the Rio Apaporis Caiman and in order to do that, we had to go like way up this tributary where nobody went, not the local hunters, nobody. And so when we told the village shaman, who is the elder really, but he was also the shaman, what we had to do and where we had to go. He was like, "Oh, very dangerous, very dangerous. Somebody is going to die." And we're like, "Oh great." And he's like, "Well, if you want to go there, you need to be blessed and make sure that everybody's okay." Being respectful, of course, we were like, "Yeah, well, no problem, whatever we need to do." He had this mixed-up green powder. I have no idea what was in it. I'm sure there was cocoa.
[00:03:17] Jordan Harbinger: Still, you don't know?
[00:03:18] Forrest Galante: Oh, no. No clue. To this day, I don't think I ever will, but I'm sure there was like cocoa leaf and a bunch of jungle herbs and spices, and he brought it out in this thing, which if you're listening you can see it. It's a snail shell. And this is beeswax. And this is the monkey bone that it goes into.
[00:03:35] Jordan Harbinger: It's like a little tiny like weed pipe, but made out of completely natural materials and with a giant bowl on the end in the form of a shell.
[00:03:42] Forrest Galante: Yeah, and way, way cooler.
[00:03:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's way cooler.
[00:03:45] Forrest Galante: He brought out this thing and like put some powder in his hand and then took this long monkey bone and blew it up everybody's noses. Everybody was like, "Oh, it feels like crazy." Like, I remember my sound guy, Trevor, who was next to me, was like, "Oh, man, it feels like you got chlorine on your brain."
[00:04:00] Jordan Harbinger: Ouch.
[00:04:00] Forrest Galante: And I was like, "Awesome. Can't wait for this." And so I was really nervous because I don't do a lot of drugs. I don't take a lot of stuff. So I was very, very nervous. Like way more nervous dealing with that than I am catching the crocodiles in question. So I get the stuff blown up my nose and to be respectful, I was like, "Yep, other side." So he like does both sides of your both nostrils. And I immediately fell down into the fetal position and just started puking my brains out. What was interesting about that whole thing was the shaman was like, "Yep, this is the guy who would have died. Like he's been cleansed of the evil spirits now."
[00:04:32] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow.
[00:04:32] Forrest Galante: Well, I don't typically believe in those things.
[00:04:34] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:04:34] Forrest Galante: You know, it was pretty interesting because I'm the guy who does the hands-on stuff. I'm the guy who has to catch the things and he's like, "You're the guy who was going to die if we hadn't done this."
[00:04:43] Jordan Harbinger: I also don't believe in that stuff. I mean, this is a science podcast for the most part, an education show. But also I assume the shaman wasn't up to speed on the role of everybody in your production crew.
[00:04:53] Forrest Galante: Certainly not.
[00:04:54] Jordan Harbinger: Him picking you as the guy who was going to die and you indeed being the most likely to bite the bullet or I should say kick the bucket in a situation that you're going into is a funny coincidence. And it does sound like a really disgusting sort of drug that they do out there not for fun.
[00:05:12] Forrest Galante: Correct.
[00:05:12] Jordan Harbinger: It's like ayahuasca type stuff, not that you had hallucinations or anything, but when you talk about ayahuasca with people who live in the jungle in the Amazon, they're never like, "Oh, yeah, it's great." You know it's like you see your dead brother and you cry for three days and you're puking like project projectile vomiting. Like it's medicine. It's like chemo—
[00:05:27] Forrest Galante: Exactly
[00:05:28] Jordan Harbinger: —for your mind.
[00:05:28] Forrest Galante: And this was not something that was done on the regular. You know what I mean? This was just like, "Hey, you need to be cleansed and protected if you're going up this dangerous tributary." And so this was like a special thing that we were really required to do, quite frankly. And yeah, no, it's like medicine. It's funny because I never understand, and you know, I'm probably going to offend some people here, but I never understand the basic white chick who's like, "I'm going to go to South America and do ayahuasca." It's like, good for you. But like, nobody enjoys this. Like, this is part of their tradition and their culture that they do as a cleansing. And it's nothing to do with us. I don't know. I feel very strange about, like, I've never really understood that, like drug tourism type thing where you go there and implant for a day and pretend like you're one of the culture by doing a bunch of mind-altering drugs and then coming back and being like, "Oh my God, it changed my life." It's like, well, did it because you're back and you're back to doing the same crap you always do. So I don't know. I've never really understood that. But this was not that. This was something that we were just sort of, like I say, kind of forced to do.
[00:06:30] Jordan Harbinger: The drug tourism thing is interesting and it's probably a whole different show with a whole different discussion, but I almost resent myself for saying this. I think a lot of people are missing meaning in their life, so they search things out like that, that are—
[00:06:41] Forrest Galante: Totally.
[00:06:42] Jordan Harbinger: —supposedly like life deeper experiences. It's basically an edgier, more adult version of going skydiving. You ever go skydiving in high school? I couldn't afford it, but a lot of my friends did, right? So they would go skydiving and they're like, "It's amazing. You really feel connected and alive." And I'm like, "Okay," and this is just another trendy version of doing that same thing for most people who spend 8,000 bucks to go to Costa Rica for a week and do ayahuasca with a shaman who was a stockbroker three months ago.
[00:07:09] Forrest Galante: Exactly right. Very well articulated. But yeah, exactly. I think you're exactly right. It's people searching for some kind of connection or meaning.
[00:07:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:07:16] Forrest Galante: Because they don't get it in their daily lives.
[00:07:18] Jordan Harbinger: They'll cry and have an emotional outburst about their cousin who died in the '90s. And not that there's anything wrong with that, but like they probably never feel much of anything because they spend their life commuting to and from an office and stopping by Starbucks on the way home. A lot of the people that I know that are doing it, they don't have kids yet. They're not necessarily in a stable relationship yet. Not everybody, not everybody by any stretch, but—
[00:07:39] Forrest Galante: Right.
[00:07:40] Jordan Harbinger: They're just a lot of people who are kind of like floating in their early 30s and that part of my life, I was like, what am I doing?
[00:07:46] Forrest Galante: Totally.
[00:07:46] Jordan Harbinger: What is the point? What do I need to be doing? Am I living? Is this life worth living the one that I'm living now? And so ayahuasca would be like, "Hey, want to find that out next week?"
[00:07:54] Forrest Galante: Uh-huh.
[00:07:55] Jordan Harbinger: Go ahead. Here's your credit card form.
[00:07:57] Forrest Galante: And you're comparing yourself to your peers, right?
[00:07:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:59] Forrest Galante: Oh, so-and-so is married and has kids, and they have purpose and they have meaning, and they have a good career.
[00:08:05] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:08:05] Forrest Galante: This is my story. Like I'm going to go down there and do this thing and I can tell everybody about my spiritual journey. To me, it has like the opposite effect. Like I almost feel like good for you for at least like taking the initiative to go do something. But at the same time, it's like I look at those people that talk about doing those kind of things as even like more basic. It's like, "Come on. Do you really need this? This is like a false thing. It's like go do something that's actually meaningful." And for me that's like, go and volunteer with like GVI or one of these projects where you can do citizen science and like make a difference. Don't go do another selfish thing, which is what this really is, you know?
[00:08:40] Jordan Harbinger: That's interesting. Yeah. I was going to say, go volunteer at an orphanage in Guatemala for two weeks and see how that changes your life as opposed to just doing drugs for four days. Anyway, like I said, probably different conversation for a different podcast.
[00:08:53] Forrest Galante: Sure.
[00:08:53] Jordan Harbinger: Tell me about growing up in Zimbabwe. First of all, you don't have an accent. Did you just get rid of it?
[00:08:58] Forrest Galante: I moved to the states when I was 14, which is right on the cusp of when you keep it and when you don't. And I do say, I'll never be able to say, can't, like Americans say, ['kant] I say ['känt].
[00:09:07] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:09:07] Forrest Galante: You know, like a soft day. So I have a couple of words that have just stuck, but when I moved here I was so like, not embarrassed, but like people were always coming up to me and asking me and I was trying to fit in and I really didn't fit in. I wrote about that in my book, but I just really didn't fit in with my peers. So I did everything I could to like intentionally hide my accent.
[00:09:26] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:09:27] Forrest Galante: And start talking like an American. And I regret that in my later life because now this is my natural speaking. I regret that I sort of squashed my own heritage in an attempt to fit in as a teenager.
[00:09:38] Jordan Harbinger: I think a lot of people do that, but I will say a high single-digit percentage, possibly double-digit percentage of a guy like Steve Irwin's charm was the fact that he'd go, "Whoa, crikey—"
[00:09:48] Forrest Galante: Yeah.
[00:09:49] Jordan Harbinger: "—look at it." Right?
[00:09:49] Forrest Galante: Totally, totally
[00:09:50] Jordan Harbinger: And it's like, oh, man, you don't want to get rid of that, right? You know, it's different if you say, "Wow, look at this big alligator." It's different.
[00:09:56] Forrest Galante: Well, it is. It is. And I don't really care about it from the like showmanship standpoint. I just care about it because it's my heritage and I don't—
[00:10:04] Jordan Harbinger: Of course.
[00:10:04] Forrest Galante: You know, whatever, and I agree. We always joke with our friend group, we always like, we wish we had an Australian friend to just say ridiculous things all the time because—
[00:10:13] Jordan Harbinger: All the time.
[00:10:13] Forrest Galante: Yeah, it's just like everything they say is hilarious. But yeah, I just sort of wish I hadn't squashed that little piece of my heritage.
[00:10:21] Jordan Harbinger: So you grew up on a farm, but it's not a farm like Americans think of a farm. I mean, it's huge. Hundreds of workers on this farm.
[00:10:28] Forrest Galante: We had 200 workers on our farm. Yeah.
[00:10:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, huge amounts of workers. Like this is an industrial, almost like an industrial-size operation, right?
[00:10:36] Forrest Galante: Yeah. Well, it was certainly industrial. I mean, you know, Zimbabwe was one of the greatest farming nations in the world before Mugabe basically collapsed that. And so, we grew up on a tiny farm by Zimbabwean standards. Minute, 200 acres, right? Which is minute by Zimbabwean standards. We did high-end alstroemeria flowers for the export market. That was what we farmed primarily, which is a very beautiful flower, ornamental flower. But for instance, our neighbors directly like bordering our fence, had nearly a million acres. And they were one of the largest tobacco producers in the world, and they had tens of thousands of employees. So we were small and high end, and there were a lot of big and in very industrial farms in our area. But yeah, grew up on a farm. 200 acres, like I say, tiny by African standards, pretty huge by American standards. But we ran around barefoot all the time. If I wasn't in school, I used to hang out. All of my best friends were the people that worked on our farm's children. So I'd hang out with them. We'd be barefoot. I spoke Shona fluently, they spoke English pretty well. I'd sleep on their floor of their mud hut. They'd come and sleep up in my house. We go to the dam fishing together or run around playing soccer together. And that was my whole childhood.
[00:11:49] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:11:50] Forrest Galante: On the farm. And outside of that, I was in the bush because my family ran safari businesses.
[00:11:54] Jordan Harbinger: You were like an outdoor kid, even among other outdoor kids, right? Because you grew up on the farm and hunt, trap fish, whatever. But then it was also like, yeah, and our job is to go even into the jungle and do more jungley things and more outdoorsy things.
[00:12:07] Forrest Galante: So in Zimbabwe, we have a term for the opposite of what we were called townies which means you live in town, like you wear shoes every day. You don't go into the bush. And we were the opposite of townies. We were farm boys. So, you know, grew up on the farm—
[00:12:21] Jordan Harbinger: Feral children.
[00:12:22] Forrest Galante: Very feral, very feral. I distinctly remember putting shoes on my feet for the first time. It was the day I went to school, my first school day, age six. It was the first time I was ever made to actually wear shoes.
[00:12:33] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:12:33] Forrest Galante: I remember just being there. These are so hot. Like how can people put these things on their feet? So yeah, no, we were real farm boys. Everything was sticks and bashing and guns and fishing and fighting and just what little boys do out on the farm. And I had a little sister and she had her group of friends, but yeah, we were farmers. And that's how we grew up. And when we weren't doing that, we had a little bush plane on the farm and my mom would run safari. So we'd take people into the bush much further out than the farm. And places like Mana Pools, Victoria Falls, and the list goes on and on, and go on safari to see the wildlife, photographic safari.
[00:13:10] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like a lot of the stuff, maybe even most of the stuff you did as a kid, just easily could have gotten you killed. I mean, in the book you're talking about trapping hyenas, dangerous elephants, dangerous fish, which is even more scarier. People think like, "Oh, Australian animals are really dangerous," but it's nothing compared to Africa.
[00:13:26] Forrest Galante: Ah, I hate that. I hate that, Jordan. It pisses me off so much. Because everybody's like, oh, especially the Aussies, right? And I play rugby with a bunch of Australians and they're like, "Yeah, no, it's more, more dangerous than Australian, mate." and I'm like, "Bro, you have like a couple of spiders. Like, relax. Try, go to Africa where everything can eat you."
[00:13:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:13:44] Forrest Galante: Like it's not even close. Like it's way worse in Africa. Anyway, so yeah, growing up, you know, look, I had quite a few near-death encounters, but I'll say this, life is a lot cheaper in Africa. It's looked at very differently.
[00:13:58] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:13:59] Forrest Galante: You know, kids are a lot more wild. People are a lot more wild in general. All this like safety protocol that we're all used to living here in the United States, doesn't exist. There's none of that. You want to wear a seatbelt? Wear a seatbelt. You want to sit on the hood of the car, on the freeway? Sit on the hood of the car on the freeway. Nobody cares. Those kind of things don't exist. So you have to make your own choices about what's safe and what isn't as opposed to being told what's safe and what isn't, and what you can and cannot do. And we made a lot of bad choices and I'll forever have a pretty bum arm because of it and a lot of scars because of it. So, we made a lot of bad choices, but that's just what kids do over there.
[00:14:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean, look, to be fair, Australia has crazy like saltwater crocs and stuff that can come out of the water and grab you. But it seems like in Africa you are firmly just in the middle of the food chain.
[00:14:46] Forrest Galante: Once you get into the bush, for sure. Like, if you're in Australia and you're in the. Outback, you're still at the top of the food chain. Nothing's coming to eat you. There are things that can bite. I mean, except for salties I guess. But outside of that, you're very much so at the top of the food chain. In Africa, you're like four steps below the top of the food chain. There are many big cats that can eat you. There are many scavengers. There are much more dangerous things than the big cats like hippos and cape buffalo and elephants that can trample you. And that's an amazing thing, and I miss that a lot and it's one of the reasons I'm heading to Africa next week. Thank goodness. I can't wait. It's one of the things I miss so much being here is not being connected to the environment and being in the food chain and learning respect for animals that are above you in the trophic cascade, which it's not really something that we get here in the United States. We've sort of tamed the environment too much.
[00:15:37] Jordan Harbinger: Tell me about the Zimbabwe land reform and what happened because I think people have kind of maybe sort of heard about this. I did an episode with a guy, Bradley Steyn, a friend of mine from South Africa, episode 760. This is not Zimbabwe, obviously. South Africa is, of course, different, but—
[00:15:51] Forrest Galante: Yeah.
[00:15:52] Jordan Harbinger: —his brother-in-law was murdered by these guys that just came in and were like, "We want your land, we're just going to kill you." And that was it.
[00:16:02] Forrest Galante: Yeah. Yeah. All our neighbors were murdered. I saw a guy get shot. Like we went through a lot of that in the early 2000s, starting in about the year two thousands, Zimbabwe went through this land reform process. And what it was, to sum it up as eloquently and briefly as I can, was the president, self-elected president for life, Robert Mugabe. He was losing grip and he needed a means by which to continue to control power and a means by which to continue to be a martyr at the head of it. And he was a dictator regardless of what you may or may not read about democracy in Zimbabwe. And so in the early 2000s, keep in mind, all of Southern Africa has a history of racism and turmoil.
[00:16:41] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:16:41] Forrest Galante: Yeah. It just does. There's no blanketing it or pretending otherwise. And so in the early 2000s, when things were very good, and Zimbabwe was affluent and had lots of money, and in some instances, we were richer than the United States because we were one-to-one with the British pound, which was stronger than the US dollar, you know? So if you think about that, our economy was incredible, but as Robert Mugabe felt, things slipping, his method in which to control people and contain power was to blame all of the white farmers and landowners and basically say if you were white and you owned a big farm, you were the problem because you were taking money from local people and things like that. Even though families like mine who had been in Zimbabwe for six generations, You know, we were more Zimbabwean than most people are in America, Americans, right?
[00:17:26] Jordan Harbinger: Easily.
[00:17:26] Forrest Galante: Sixth generation. Yeah. My parents were born on a farm and their parents were born on a farm, and I was born on a farm. And that was just sort of all we knew. And anyway, during this time, Robert Mugabe announced that basically, quote-unquote, war veterans from the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia Independence War could go on and take land as they pleased, and there would be no ramifications. And so what ended up happening is you ended up with a bunch of like 14-year-olds who had never seen a war in their life from the city getting their hands on AK-47s, an aggressive weaponry that were handed through the military and through the ZANU–PF political power to these young, ambitious kids who didn't know any better from the city and from the streets, who would then go out and take things for themselves. And if you didn't vote for Robert Mugabe's political party, which was ZANU–PF And you didn't outright say that you were voting for him in a part of his party, then you would be indoctrinated through torture through these things called where they'd put nails in your feet and burn your skin and all these different things.
[00:18:26] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[00:18:27] Forrest Galante: And so, as you can imagine, these are hard people that I'm talking about, like the Zimbabwe farmers. They grew up on farms. They've had spent their whole life dealing with wildlife. They've been through several wars. So most of the farmers, like all the farms surrounding us and the one I mentioned earlier in our chat, dug their heels in and said, bring it on. You know? And I mean, we got chased home, we got shot at, I remember one day coming back from school and just hearing something as my mom was ripping down, driving and there was a bullet hole through the back windshield and all the way through the front wheel shield of our Land Cruiser. You know, things got crazy, our neighbors got murdered. There was lots of these _____, and it really wasn't a black versus white thing. That's what's crazy because most of the country wanted to support the MDC political party, which was the opposition to the ZANU-PF political party. And ZANU-PF was Robert Mugabe's political party. The problem was ZANU-PF controlled the military and so they had all of the firepower and all of the weaponry. And so—
[00:19:20] Jordan Harbinger: Ah.
[00:19:21] Forrest Galante: —it really had nothing to do with like black versus white. It's just that was just the catalyst to make it like that. And ultimately, people like my family and tens of thousands, if not millions, more of the local Shona people suffered the most because of this indoctrination through torture, because of these armed hooligans basically coming in. And everybody that stuck their heels in basically died to be quite honest. And everybody that flee made it.
[00:19:44] And to tell you what happened to us, I'd been pulled out of school early, came home, and my mom said, "Go and lock yourself in the bedroom," you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. My mom was a single mother. My dad left when we were eight, so she was a single white lady on a farm in rural Africa with two little kids. And so she was an easy, easy target. Yeah, my mom said, "Go unlock yourselves in the bedroom, blah, blah, blah." And these guys came marching up. They'd been on our fence line for a couple of weeks and they'd taken the neighboring farm and they were camping on the fence line. And we had this big Matabele warrior who was our security guard, and he had been in shootouts with them and all kinds of things. They came in one day and they said, "You have 24 hours to leave, otherwise we're going to kill you." And they had killed all of our neighbors, so they weren't kidding. I was 14 years old full of piss and vinegar and I grabbed a rifle off the wall and a knife and put it on my hip and started marching out there to go do justice. My mom smacked me across the face and said, "Go pack your bags."
[00:20:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:20:40] Forrest Galante: And thank God she did. Yeah. And so we packed our bags and 24 hours later we were in the United States.
[00:20:46] Jordan Harbinger: Geez, man. Do you think you'd ever go back there? I mean, I don't even know. Obviously, Mugabe would have to be ousted. It seems like there's no going back, right? Have the farms been divided up or are they just burned?
[00:20:58] Forrest Galante: So I've been back many times.
[00:21:00] Jordan Harbinger: You have?
[00:21:00] Forrest Galante: I mean, it's still my home really many times. Yeah. And Robert Mugabe has since passed, but it was sort of out of the pot and into the fire. You know, the next dictators know better.
[00:21:09] Jordan Harbinger: Sorry, I misspoke. I mean, the regime would've to be ousted. I know he's been gone for a minute—
[00:21:13] Forrest Galante: Correct.
[00:21:13] Jordan Harbinger: —but the government would've to change.
[00:21:14] Forrest Galante: Yeah. And it just hasn't to be honest. And you know, I've even been back to my old farm and it's just like all the trees have been cut down for firewood. All the windows have been smashed in the house, where they're used to be this like very neat area where 200 people live. The whole thing was just like squatter camps now. There's like goat crap everywhere and like it's just all burnt to rubble. There's just nothing left standing, you know? So as far as going back, I mean, I go back regularly. And to be clear, I don't want to paint a terrible picture. Like downtown Harare and parts of it are still really beautiful and wonderful, and while there's like no functioning economy.
[00:21:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:21:50] Forrest Galante: And money's a nightmare and we won't get into that whole thing, it's just the rural land that's just gone. It's just been totally wiped out and that incredibly booming industry of agriculture in the country of Zimbabwe just doesn't really exist anymore. There's little pieces of it, little chunks of it, but it's just a mess.
[00:22:06] Jordan Harbinger: Is Zimbabwe the country where we see those memes where there's like a trillion-dollar bill?
[00:22:10] Forrest Galante: Yes, that's correct. Our inflation got so bad that the value of the money was not worth the paper that was printed on. When the currency actually collapsed, the Zimbabwean dollars, the street was just lined with trillions of dollars because it was so worthless, like people were just throwing it out. In order to buy a loaf of bread, you'd have to take like two suitcases of bills because it would be 83 billion for a loaf of bread or something like that.
[00:22:35] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god.
[00:22:35] Forrest Galante: And the highest note was a million dollar note or a trillion dollar note or whatever it was. And so you'd have to take suitcases of cash in order to buy a loaf of bread, which also didn't exist because nobody had stock it. And you know, the whole economy just completely collapsed.
[00:22:48] Jordan Harbinger: So what do you do that you just barter? How does that even work? How do you do anything?
[00:22:53] Forrest Galante: Well, it's very, very, very difficult and things have changed now. A lot of bartering, a lot of services for goods, a lot of, hey, you know, I'll give you, here's a little bit of US dollars that somehow made it in, and they're filthy. You wouldn't even recognize them as US dollars because the paper notes are so old and have changed hands so many times. It's hard to explain if you've never seen it. But you know, hey, I'll give you one of these US dollars and a bit of this chocolate that I got in exchange for six eggs. And like everything's just a haggle and a negotiation. Well, even now, but a lot of it's like substance living. So you grow some of your crops and you have some chickens—
[00:23:28] Jordan Harbinger: Subsistence, yeah.
[00:23:29] Forrest Galante: Subsistence, that's what I mean. Sorry. You know, it's just a mess. The country's just a mess. And for your listeners, I don't want to discourage anybody going there, because what we need is people to go there and for them to go on a phenomenal safari, which still exists and see wildlife and bring in fresh currency and cross our fingers in hope and pray that one day the regime changes and things level off and stabilize. Because really the instability, that's the problem.
[00:23:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. When you go there, bring some fresh, clean dollars and then take all the dirty, disgusting ones back with you and bring them to Chase Bank and trade them in.
[00:24:01] Forrest Galante: Yeah.
[00:24:01] Jordan Harbinger: They need fresh, they need fresh currency.
[00:24:03] Forrest Galante: They look terrible. Yeah. But anyway, Zimbabwe is an interesting place and yeah, times have definitely changed from when I was a kid, but when I grew up it was an idyllic place, . It was wild. It was safe. We never locked our doors ever in my entire childhood. I don't even think we had keys to our front doors.
[00:24:19] Jordan Harbinger: Well, you had a giant security guy and a bunch of guns, so he probably didn't need a lock.
[00:24:23] Forrest Galante: Yeah, that helped too. But you know it was just an amazing idyllic place to grow up when you're a kid. You run around wild, you've got all these wild animals, tons of space and freedom. And then yeah, it all sort of collapsed in the early 2000s.
[00:24:35] Jordan Harbinger: You end up in downtown Oakland, California, which is not, I mean, that's kind of a hard area. It's like a Detroit-ish kind of place.
[00:24:42] Forrest Galante: Very hard and it was then. Now, it's all gentrified and you can get yourself like a nice beeswax smoothie and whatnot.
[00:24:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, poured over coffee that takes 20 minutes to make.
[00:24:51] Forrest Galante: Yeah, exactly. That's Oakland now. Oakland 2001 was a different place. Yeah, so we ended up there and the reason we ended up there is my mom's sister and I fled the country as political refugees. We came to Oakland because my dad was actually an American. And while he was out of the picture, my mom knew San Francisco, because that was where she had actually lived with him for a couple of years in San Francisco, yeah, before they got married. So we fled, we came to Oakland, California, and we went from a farm in Zimbabwe with all the things I've just described to the three of us living in a one-bedroom government facility overnight on welfare as political refugees in Oakland, California. That was hard and it was hard because here comes me and my little short cocky shorts with my skinny legs and my button-down shirt that I'd grown up in, you know, like African bush attire running around Oakland barefoot on the streets trying to make friends and that didn't go very well.
[00:25:47] Jordan Harbinger: I can only imagine. And also, I read in your book that you're like running around in what essentially sounds like a highway median trying to catch snakes and sh*t—
[00:25:56] Forrest Galante: Exactly right.
[00:25:57] Jordan Harbinger: —which is ridiculous.
[00:25:57] Forrest Galante: Exactly right. Yeah, we were in and out of Tilden National Park, which is amazing. Or it's not national, I think Tilden State Park—
[00:26:03] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:26:03] Forrest Galante: —or something like that. It's a beautiful park in the Bay Area. And then in between that I'm flipping over logs, like you said, in highway divides and just anywhere I could find any bit of wildlife because that was really the only thing that I knew.
[00:26:15] Jordan Harbinger: What did your mom do for work? I mean, she was a safari guide. Not a whole lot of that—
[00:26:19] Forrest Galante: Yeah.
[00:26:19] Jordan Harbinger: —going on in Oakland, California.
[00:26:20] Forrest Galante: Well, no, and I don't think I've ever told the story to anybody but the stress of the whole thing and losing the farm and losing everything. We came here with 200 US dollars to our name. So that was all we had in three suitcases of clothes.
[00:26:31] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[00:26:31] Forrest Galante: So actually, from the stress of it all, she had a pulmonary embolism. And so when we landed, she got rushed into urgent care in Oakland Central Hospital or whatever the hell it was called. And she spent the first two and a half, three weeks, in the hospital on life support and having an emergency procedure. And we slept on the hospital floor for the first couple of weeks.
[00:26:51] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[00:26:52] Forrest Galante: It was definitely a trying time. The nice thing was, you know, nice thing being an interesting way to put it. I was 14 and my sister was 12, so we were very sad. I mean, I grasped a lot more than my sister did. You know, 14, you're a real little person but part of it was almost exciting in a way.
[00:27:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:27:09] Forrest Galante: Not that my mom was sick, that was terrible, of course. But just it was also different. You know, we'd never even seen a hospital like what they had in San Francisco. Things like Toys“R”Us didn't exist and big streets, five-lane highways, stoplights, cities, like we had never seen any of this stuff. So part of it was sort of exciting and it was just also different. It was almost like, it just wasn't really believable, I think. It's like we didn't really understand what was going on. So for my sister and I, while it was difficult and I was getting into fist fights and starting trouble on the streets of Oakland and running around like a madman, and my little sister was sort of just shadowing me or sticking with my mom, I don't think either of us understood what was going on until a little bit later in life.
[00:27:52] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Forrest Galante. We'll be right back.
[00:27:57] This episode is sponsored in part by ZipRecruiter. It's been challenging for a lot of small businesses to compete against large companies for hiring top talent, especially when larger companies can offer absurdly generous salaries. But job seekers want more, everything from remote working conditions to an easier application process to a better snapshot of what your company culture is like. If you want to break through the clutter and attract the most qualified candidates for your business, try ZipRecruiter for free at ziprecruiter.com/jordan. Use ZipRecruiter's powerful matching technology to find qualified candidates and send them a personal invite so they're more likely to apply. ZipRecruiter also offers attention grabbing labels that speak to job flexibility like work remote training provided and more. ZipRecruiter also makes it easy for candidates to apply to your job. Instead of filling out a lengthy application, they can apply with just a click. Get your job noticed by the best and brightest candidates with ZipRecruiter. Four out of five employers who post on ZipRecruiter, get a quality candidate within the first day. See for yourself. Go to this exclusive web address to try ZipRecruiter for free and support the show, ziprecruiter.com/jordan. Again, that's ziprecruiter.com/J-O-R-D-A-N. ZipRecruiter, the smartest way to hire.
[00:29:02] This episode is also sponsored by Athletic Greens. Jen and I take AG1 by Athletic Greens, pretty much every single morning. We had a scoop of AG1 to a bottle of water and shake it on up. We started taking AG1 because we don't always have time to eat a balanced meal. Sometimes we're eating weird leftovers from the kids that they didn't want. It's just kind of awkward. Some days I try to be healthy. On other days, I'm literally surviving on fridge leftovers or weird kid snacks. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but we wanted a quick and easy way to make sure we're getting all the nutrients we need in a way that's easy for the body to absorb. And I'm just going to, you know, wet it out. AG one is like an all-in-one nutritional insurance. It's cheaper and easier than getting all these different supplements yourself. Each scoop has 75 vitamins, minerals, whole-food sourced, superfoods, probiotics, and adaptogens. No need for a million different pills and supplements to look out for your health. No GMOs, no nasty chemicals, no artificial stuff in there. Tastes great. You know it's enough green that you know it works, but not so sweet that you're like, "Oh, this is definitely not good for me." I add one scoop with just water. That's how good it is by itself. Time to reclaim your health and arm your immune system with convenient daily nutrition, especially heading into flu and cold season, which this year is every year round. Get little snot in those kids, picking up germs in preschool like we do.
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[00:30:26] Jordan Harbinger: Hey, if you want to know how I book all these amazing folks for the show, it's always about my network. There's always some warm intro or connection. I want to teach you how to build your own network. You don't have a podcast, it doesn't matter. You know, you need connections with other people to make it in your industry, jordanharbinger.com/course. It's a free course. I'm not trying to upsell you. I don't want your credit card number. It's not going to make you cringe. It's not tail between your legs. Weird stuff that's awkward and makes you look like a moron. Just going to make you a better friend, a better peer, a better colleague, in a few minutes a day. Not sending you to lame-o cocktail mixers at the YMCA and many of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company. You can find the course at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:31:08] Now, back to Forrest Galante.
[00:31:11] I mean, you're basically living in a sci-fi movie, right? You leave Africa and you come to the big city and you're—
[00:31:17] Forrest Galante: Yeah.
[00:31:17] Jordan Harbinger: In this place with lights on 24/7. It's just got to be completely crazy. But she's a single. and she's basically a refugee and a single mom—
[00:31:27] Forrest Galante: Yeah.
[00:31:28] Jordan Harbinger: —in the US at the same time, who's having a health crisis. I mean, that's a lot at once.
[00:31:34] Forrest Galante: It was a lot. You know, we didn't know if my mom was going to live or die. And of course, she survived, which was great. But she had this pulmonary embolism moving into her lungs or her heart, I don't recall. I think it was her lungs. But yeah, she had this whole like, breathing thing and then we were sleeping on the hospital floor and then in and out of this government housing and I was getting in fights on the street with kids I didn't really understand why I was fighting because I was just like this crazy little white boy running around in like a pretty rough neighborhood. Yeah, it was just, it was a very weird time, but that didn't last very long. And as soon as my mom got out of the hospital and sort of saw what was going on, like with me running around and coming back all beat up and stuff like that, she got us out of Oakland as quickly as possible. And we moved to the central coast of California to a little tiny surf town. Still on welfare and everything else but really, you have the ability to move and do whatever you like when you're on state welfare, as long as you continue to, I don't know, do whatever is required, I suppose. But yeah, so she got us out of that town and that got us out of a lot of trouble, or at least got me out of a lot of trouble pretty quickly and moved us to the tiny little surf town, 2000 people of Cayucos, California.
[00:32:39] Jordan Harbinger: But you keep your love for wildlife and animals that it seems like your first gig was counting ants, which sounds so glamorous man. You really jump right into the top of the profession.
[00:32:51] Forrest Galante: Well, that's a bit of a fast forward because we settled in Cayucos for a bit. I finished up in high school. I found free diving and spearfishing, which was the only sort of wild side of California that really made me feel like one with the ecosystem like I had in Africa.
[00:33:06] Jordan Harbinger: Except you're doing it with a bunch of like investment bankers and tech bros with LinkedIn stock options.
[00:33:11] Forrest Galante: Totally, totally but I didn't realize that because I was 16 or whatever.
[00:33:15] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:33:16] Forrest Galante: But yeah, so I found this like spearfishing which excited me because they were white sharks and sea lions and all these things that little boy from the landlock country of Zimbabwe had never even heard of or seen before. So that really helped. And then, I met a girl as one does, and she was like, "Where are you going to college?" I was like, "I'm not going to college, I'm going to Africa." And she's like, "Oh, well, you know, I'm really—" she didn't say this, but she's like, "Well, I'm really cute and I'm going to UC Santa Barbara." And I was like, "Oh sh*t, I better go to UC Santa Barbara." And so—
[00:33:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:33:44] Forrest Galante: —on the last night of applications at about 7:00 p.m. I started my one and only college application, which was to UC Santa Barbara. And by a miracle with that combined with the fact that I went to the school and met a professor who was impressed with my wildlife knowledge and blah, blah, blah, blah. Long story, I got into UCSB and then had a great time, really settled in, started to understand California, make real friends, so on and so forth. And then came out of that with a biology degree and sort of my thumb up my butt going like, "What the heck am I going to do next?" And that was when I started as a biologist, just doing all these odd jobs all over the place. And my first real one, my first proper contract was counting ants at the California Channel Islands invasive Argentine ants.
[00:34:26] Jordan Harbinger: There's always a lot of ants. How many ants are you counting per day?
[00:34:29] Forrest Galante: Millions. Absolutely.
[00:34:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:34:30] Forrest Galante: Yeah. Well, no, I think it was like hundreds of thousands per day. But yeah, no, it's absolutely miserable. You know the cool part about that, when you say counting ants, and I think I write that in the book and stuff to be dramatic, but we were living at a research station on the California Channel Islands. There's island foxes everywhere. It's absolutely stunning out there. Nobody can go out there unless you're a researcher. Yes, we were slurping up ant traps and then spending all afternoon counting them. But I got to be in a very cool environment and do very interesting things while I was there doing these ant counts. I forget what I wrote in the book, but I'm sure I made it sound very monotonous and tedious, which it was but at least, I was outdoors and in the wild and doing the things that I loved doing. Because I was much happier counting ants at a research station than I would've been counting numbers at a a brokerage.
[00:35:18] Jordan Harbinger: That's a given, right? The it beats spreadsheets.
[00:35:20] Forrest Galante: Exactly.
[00:35:21] Jordan Harbinger: I can imagine their college application and they're like, "Oh, man, this is great. He's from Africa, he grew up on a farm in Africa." And then you show up and they're like, "We're looking for the—"
[00:35:29] Forrest Galante: Oh yeah.
[00:35:30] Jordan Harbinger: "—guy from Africa. Oh, you're that kind of from Africa."
[00:35:33] Forrest Galante: Yeah. Right. Where's the seven-foot-tall mega-athlete?
[00:35:36] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:35:36] Forrest Galante: Like, because you're not him. Yeah.
[00:35:37] Jordan Harbinger: Where's the guy that's not a pasty white dude?
[00:35:41] Forrest Galante: Jordano, I said this in jokes so many times. The only reason I got into college because I was a white African American Jew.
[00:35:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:46] Forrest Galante: That's it. There was like no other way I was getting into college.
[00:35:49] Jordan Harbinger: You guys are Jews too? That seems unusual. Were there a lot of Jews in Zimbabwe?
[00:35:54] Forrest Galante: 400 in the entire country.
[00:35:55] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so no, that's not a lot.
[00:35:56] Forrest Galante: We're not a lot of us. Yeah, no, we were, we checked all the minority boxes.
[00:36:01] Jordan Harbinger: But where did you come from then originally? Like were you English Jews, Dutch Jews?
[00:36:05] Forrest Galante: English.
[00:36:06] Jordan Harbinger: English Jews. Wow. And you came to Zimbabwe. That's a very not super Jewish thing to do, is go to a place where you have to do lots of manual labor.
[00:36:13] Forrest Galante: I couldn't tell you to be honest. And I am not anything, to be honest.
[00:36:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:36:18] Forrest Galante: I'm not religious at all. I don't even identify as any certain like political party or anything. Like I'm not anything I'm interested in critters. You know, I'm very one-track-minded.
[00:36:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:36:27] Forrest Galante: But, yeah, I don't even know how that heritage came about. We're English Jews by heritage, but how many generations ago or where or how or when? I don't even know the answer.
[00:36:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, no, that's interesting. There's act a surprising number of Jews in Africa, but usually they're in like Cape Town and they're—
[00:36:44] Forrest Galante: Yeah.
[00:36:44] Jordan Harbinger: You know, they're in merchant businesses and that's how it happens.
[00:36:47] Forrest Galante: Exactly.
[00:36:47] Jordan Harbinger: You usually don't see them like deep in landlocked jungley places on farms.
[00:36:52] Forrest Galante: Exactly right.
[00:36:54] Jordan Harbinger: All right, so then you go on, one of my favorite guilty pleasure shows that I haven't watched for a long time now, Naked and Afraid, which is exactly what it sounds like. For people who don't know what Naked and Afraid is. It is where they strip you down naked and they put you in the middle of a really harsh environment like a jungle or a marshland or a desert, and they're like, "All right, survive for—" What is it? 21 days.
[00:37:14] Forrest Galante: 21 days.
[00:37:15] Jordan Harbinger: Don't get dysentery and have to get evacuated.
[00:37:17] Forrest Galante: Exactly right. Yep. That's it. I came home from one of those Channel Island contracts. I don't remember who it was ants or weeds or rats or foxes. I don't remember which one it was, but I came home, plopped down on the couch after a two or three-month contract, filthy dirty, covered in — because it's not like there's real showers out there or anything, right? And plopped down on the couch, all exhausted, and my girlfriend at the time, the same pretty girl who convinced me to go to university, says, "Have you seen this show?" And I'm like, "Nah, this looks like nonsense."
[00:37:46] Jordan Harbinger: It is.
[00:37:46] Forrest Galante: She's like, "Oh, well, I've seen you do all these things." Pardon me.
[00:37:49] Jordan Harbinger: It is nonsense. I mean, it's garbage.
[00:37:52] Forrest Galante: Oh, yeah.
[00:37:52] Jordan Harbinger: It's like 90 Day Fiancé but like, you know, naked in a jungle.
[00:37:56] Forrest Galante: Yeah. It's utter garbage. But yeah, and the producers are going to hear this and be like, "How dare you say that," but I don't care. It's utter garbage.
[00:38:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's too late now.
[00:38:02] Forrest Galante: Yeah. I don't care. It is. It's trash. But anyway, so I was like, "Oh, cool, this looks fun. And so I sent basically a cocky email to the production company, which is Renegade 83. And you know, comes up at the end of the credits, it says, who made the show? And I sent a cocky email going, "Hey, my name's Forrest. I grew up in Africa. And by the way, the people that you have on this show doing these things aren't very good at it. Here's a better way to do this and here's a better way to do that." You know, long story short, 10 days later I was on a plane to Panama to be on the next season or special or whatever it was, of Naked and Afraid. And the only reason I did that was to get a vacation because doing Naked and Afraid, doing 21 days of nude survival in the jungle seemed a lot easier than going back out to the islands and counting ants for another three months, so yeah, it was just something I decided to do for fun. Got through that was very, very successful on that show at the time. I think the highest rated survivalist they'd had because they give you like a little score at the end and then just went back to being a biologist. Didn't think anything of it. However, when the show came out and I saw the numbers, the ratings, there was a four million number rating on the show that I had been on, and I was like, holysh*t four million people saw me jiggling my junk on TV, on Discovery Channel, and here I am, like publishing papers and doing all this scientific work and nobody's seeing it. It's like a complete waste of time.
[00:39:26] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:39:27] Forrest Galante: If I really want to make a difference in wildlife and conservation, I got to figure out how to do it like this. That exact day, I called my boss Morgan and said, "Hey, Morgan. Like, no offense, man, thank you so much for the years of letting me work for you and everything else, but I'm moving on. I'm going to come up with a new way to do conservation." And that was when I made the switch to get into television.
[00:39:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Most people can't parlay Naked and Afraid into the fame that they hope they're going to get from being on Naked and Afraid.
[00:39:53] Forrest Galante: No, of course not.
[00:39:54] Jordan Harbinger: The reason people watch this show, again, for those who don't know, is you want to see somebody who goes, "Yeah, I've been teaching wildlife survival for 20 years, and you want to see them crying within 48 hours because they're dehydrated.
[00:40:06] Forrest Galante: Right.
[00:40:06] Jordan Harbinger: And they're sunburned to the point where they can't move. It's pure schadenfreude. It's purely like, "Oh, you think you're tough? Look at this person cry and now eat like overcooked snake.
[00:40:15] Forrest Galante: And it's funny because the people that are crying are always the hardcore military guys.
[00:40:19] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:20] Forrest Galante: You know, they're like, "I'm this badass." And I'm sure that's done intentionally, by the way. It's not a dig at the military. I'm sure that's done by the producers and who they cast.
[00:40:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:40:28] Forrest Galante: But I remember distinctly being on the show and one of the producers who I will not name, but she comes up to me and goes, "Nobody's going to like you, Forrest." And I was like, "Why?" And she's like, "You're not suffering. You're not struggling. You're not letting the audience be sympathetic." She's like, "Nobody is going to like you." She's like, "You can't just be smiling and happy all the time." And I'm like, "Well, sorry, but I'm having fun. Like I've got nothing to cry about." Like I just didn't really get it. I'd only watched half of one episode ever going into it. Very ill prepared to be honest. But—
[00:40:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:40:59] Forrest Galante: —I just like, thought it was fun and a joke and I just kept saying to myself, I'm like, there's no other point in history where you'd spend 21 days naked running around a jungle. Like there just isn't. You'd self-rescue after a day or two, you'd figure out a way to get out of there. You'd get some clothes on and be like, "Oh, well, that was a weird experience," but instead you're like, forced to make it all 21 days, you know? And the show makes it seem like you have no other option, blah, blah, blah. You could exit at any time, right? You could just hike out of there. Yeah. No, I just thought the whole thing was really fun and like I was dancing and singing and building all these water wells and stuffing my face with oysters and yeah, I just had a blast. And you know, one of the things I did and never made the show, but I think I've talked about it a few times is I found like 30 pounds of these wild yuca, these like jungle potatoes.
[00:41:40] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow.
[00:41:40] Forrest Galante: And that was on like day three. So day three, I had this shelter. I was making ceviche, eating oysters, and I had stockpiled enough food for about three months. The producers were pulling their hair out. They're like, "Oh my God, this f*cking guy, he's like ruining the show," because I wasn't struggling, I wasn't crying, I wasn't breaking down, I wasn't being snarky. I was just like, okay, now, I'm camping. And I think that everybody thought that was going to be a disaster. And when the show came out, the audience actually loved that there was somebody who wasn't just miserable the whole time.
[00:42:09] Jordan Harbinger: Well, because you probably weren't being a big sh*t talker. Like all the other people who are like, "Yeah, my grandfather was a Native American, he taught me how to survive." And then it's like cut to them crying and being like, "Why is the water dirty and a bird won't let me eat it."
[00:42:22] Forrest Galante: No, totally. Yeah, no, I never had any big emotional like ups or downs because it just wasn't, no offense, but it just wasn't that hard. And I know a part of that is where I was located and my background allowed me to be successful, but I just didn't have that emotional rollercoaster that people tune in to see where they're like, "Yeah, I killed this thing." Or, "Oh my God, I'm breaking down. I'm so cold." Like, I was just like, this is fun. Like, I don't know. What do you want me to say?
[00:42:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:42:48] Forrest Galante: And that was a hit. And then when that show came out, like I said, I was a bit of a hit, but hundreds, if not a thousand plus people, probably hundreds of people have done that show and not leveraged that into something else. I made the decision then and there to go into the field of really it was wildlife biology, because that's what I do, but more like wildlife communication.
[00:43:09] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:43:09] Forrest Galante: You know, an education through media. The other thing that's not very talked about is it took about three years from when that happened until something actually stuck. And that was three years of living on my girlfriend's part-time teacher salary.
[00:43:21] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[00:43:22] Forrest Galante: Eating top ramen and saving money, writing the most terrible-looking TV show pitches I've ever seen. But you know, looking back at it now, as the owner of a production company sold a bunch of TV shows, but you know, just grinding and just trying and taking no after, no after, no for like three years. And that's the part that always gets skipped over. It's like, oh, this guy went out Naked and Afraid and you know, a week later he was like a famous wildlife guy on animal planet. Well, no, that's absolutely not how it went. It took a lot of rejection in three years of grinding to get there.
[00:43:52] Jordan Harbinger: In your show, you chase species that are presumed extinct. Now, okay, if we say something is extinct, where do you begin looking for something that nobody else can find? They're like an animal detective, basically.
[00:44:07] Forrest Galante: Right.
[00:44:07] Jordan Harbinger: Because like, okay, this doesn't exist anymore. Ah, well I'm going to find one. How do you even know that you can? And it's not like, no, there's really just, aren't these anymore? They're gone.
[00:44:15] Forrest Galante: Well, yes, that's one of the shows that I do or have done Extinct or Alive. It's not going any longer. So after Naked and Afraid came out, I had my five seconds of fame as everybody does, right? Like you have your five seconds of, you know, the local newspaper wants to talk to you about what it was like to be naked in the jungle. And I just didn't really care about any of that because I was back to work as a biologist, so on and so forth. And so what I did instead is I said, "Hey, how about I talk to you about what's going on with El Niño this year in California and the fact that we have hammerheads at the Channel Islands for the first time, and how about this and that and all these different wildlife stories?" And so most people were just like, "Nope." Click and hung up the phone.
[00:44:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, no, thanks.
[00:44:54] Forrest Galante: Yeah. And a couple of them said, "Yeah, let's hear about it." That is what I basically slowly leveraged into an opportunity. To be able to come up with my own idea. And so, I'm answering your question a very long-winded way, but I knew through my childhood, growing up in Zimbabwe, I had found a bunch of, I had redefined some range distributions of species that people had not believed, lived in certain areas, even here in the state of California. I redefined the coachwhip range. They said they didn't occur in Ojai, and I found four specimens in Ojai and they had to republish—
[00:45:26] Jordan Harbinger: What is that?
[00:45:27] Forrest Galante: Oh, a beautiful pink snake basically that we have in the state of California.
[00:45:30] Jordan Harbinger: I was going to say like, "Oh, how does this guy know there's one there?" "Well, he actually caught one with his bare hands, no shoes. And he's 14."
[00:45:37] Forrest Galante: Yeah, four of them, not one of them.
[00:45:39] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:45:39] Forrest Galante: And so took that into the field guide. What is it, Western? I've got it here somewhere in my library, I don't know. Took that in. And they had to redefine the range distribution, right? So I had always been doing this. And it was a combination of a lot of things. My survival skills from Naked and Afraid, my upbringing from Zimbabwe and being a in the bush and being the son of a Safari business owner and a tracker and all of that. And so these people started to approach me based on those stories and said, "Hey, do you want to do this TV show?" And some of them were absolutely terrible. I remember one of them made it to air, and Discovery is going to get mad when they hear this but I don't care. It was called Man Versus Bear. And they asked me if I wanted to host Man Versus Bear, which was about people competing with bears in athletic arenas. And I was like, no, I'm not doing that. That's terrible. Like, that's just animal extortion and I'm just not doing it. And so instead I started to write my own TV shows. And the one that I was most excited about, granted it actually was the idea that came from my partner Patrick DeLuca, but still the one I was the most excited was this idea of Extinct or Alive, which was, hey, every now and then animals pop up, the people have declared extinct, and a perfect example was the Lord Howe stick Insect, which was one that was making the news rounds about when we started to pitch this show, you know, news rounds in very small circles.
[00:46:49] So to answer your question, when I first put this together and I came up with this list of animals that I believe had been wrongfully deemed extinct and so on and so forth, everybody in the scientific community in which I was in as a biologist was like, "You're a lunatic. You're a tinfoil hat guy. Like you should be chasing Bigfoot. And said how preposterous and stupid it was to be looking for extinct animals," because extinct doesn't mean hiding. Extinct means eradicated. Yeah, it was very, very laughed at and frowned upon when we started and then we became successful. You know, on the end of our first season, we uncovered a leopard, and then moving into our second season, we uncovered seven more species that had previously been deemed extinct between that and our Shark Week shows. And it spurred this whole industry of people looking for lost animals. And all of a sudden the same critics who had been like, "You're a lunatic," were now like, "Hey, tell me how you did that again." And it had just sort of created this whole thing.
[00:47:43] And so that's what Extinct or Alive was. And it was a marriage of my skill sets and my background of being a tracker, being a wildlife biologist, growing up in Africa, having these survival skills, putting together an incredible team of amazing outdoor adventurers and cameramen, and gathering tons of local info. Growing up in Zimbabwe, I knew how to speak with like local people, traditional tribal people because Zimbabwe is a very tribal culture, the Shona are. And so like, all these things just sort of perfectly aligned to allow me to get into this information and go a lot further and harder than other people had been going to look for these things. And we were successful and the show was very successful.
[00:48:21] Jordan Harbinger: I assume it's a lot of like, hey, go to this really remote village and talk to this guy because he hunts a lot and he's probably the last person who saw the animal can kind of tell you where it was three years ago or 10 years ago. But man, some of these animals are crazy dangerous. I think you're talking about toxic snakes that can kill you, obviously, venomous or lethal animals and some of the snakes, what do you call them? A hundred pacers because you walk a hundred paces and then you're dead after you get bitten, you walk a hundred paces and you just collapse.
[00:48:48] Forrest Galante: Yeah, that's a hundred pacer. That's a Taiwanese snake, very beautiful, very dangerous.
[00:48:53] Jordan Harbinger: Does your team get sick or injured in any of these locations? Because you're in some random places, right? Zanzibar, different jungles in Tasmania, like Burma, Myanmar, right? These are places where if you get bit by something on the leg in the middle of the jungle, you can't just maybe call the army to have you lifted to a state-of-the-art medical facility.
[00:49:13] Forrest Galante: Do we get sick sometimes? No, we don't get sick sometimes. We get sick every single time without fail? I think the only ones we haven't ever had a major calamity have been like the Shark Week ones, where we're basically staying on a nice boat or in a hotel because we're doing Shark Week. But all of these like tough expeditions, whether it's human-wildlife conflict for my show, Mysterious Creatures, or the Extinct or Alive stuff. I mean, we've had guys faint, we've broken bones, we've had people pass out from heat stroke. We had something run through the crew in Madagascar where I won't get into the details, but everybody had stuff coming out, both ends, all night, every night.
[00:49:47] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man.
[00:49:47] Forrest Galante: It was just brutal but we've had it all. And we travel with the medic that's part of our team and he's great when he's himself as not the one in the fetal position, and he's fantastic. But if you're bitten by a hundred pacer or you're tagged by a mamba or you shark rips off your arm, it doesn't matter who your medic is you're done. A lot of these instances where three or four days from civilization, not three or four hours. There's no airlift where further in than choppers can go. You know, we don't have comms until Garmin came out with the inReach, which is this little device that we use to send message. Yeah, we had SAP phones that we never knew how to work or we were under jungle canopies where the signal never went out. And yeah, it was just go in there and don't die and do your job. That might sound like shocking or harrowing to a lot of people, but honestly, it's just, that's what I'd grown up doing. That's what safari people do every day, all day.
[00:50:41] And you know, if you think back to not even that long ago, Jordan, you think back to 50 years ago, a hundred years ago, that's all people did. Right? Go in there, do your job, get into the bush, go find the thing, go build the thing, whatever it is and don't die. And it's only this like sort of recent construct of like safety everything, and you got to be in communication and you got to have this and this backup and that backup and this medication. And I get it like nobody wants to die, but it's sort of a recent panicky construct that we've come up with for all of the safety stuff. In human history, that's never really been a thing until recently. And so, yeah, it didn't really bug me. It's how I grew up. We went through a lot of crew members early on in the show as you can imagine.
[00:51:20] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:51:20] Forrest Galante: You know, we hired a bunch of guys from like LA Studios that had filmed bullsh*t things like Deadliest Catch and they thought they were hard because they hung out on a boat in Alaska for a few weeks.
[00:51:30] Jordan Harbinger: I got wet and cold so many times like, okay.
[00:51:33] Forrest Galante: Right, totally.
[00:51:34] Jordan Harbinger: You're going to pray you're and cold on my trip.
[00:51:37] Forrest Galante: And you know, you hear that, you hear there are big egos. It's like the Naked and Afraid tough guys, right? You hear their big egos and they're talking about, "Oh, I did Deadliest Catch. I was on the boat for three months and blah, blah." And you're like, "Cool. All right, that's great. Like we're going to hike for the next three days to get to our location with your sh*t on your back." and they're all quitting on like day two. Like, "I can't work under these conditions. Where's the crafty? Where's the food services?" And we're like, "What food services? What the f*ck are you talking about?
[00:52:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Feel free to eat one of these parasitic wasps that keep landing on you. They're edible if you peel the stinger off.
[00:52:09] Forrest Galante: Exactly. Yeah. So we lost a lot of people early on. And it's funny because my crew, who's my core crew, and I've had them since about halfway through the first season of the first show I ever did, are all guys that are exactly my age. They're all one year younger than me or my age. It's a group of eight of us, total. And they're all young guys from different backgrounds. Some are from scientific backgrounds, some are from camera backgrounds. One guy has a doctorate in environmental science but they just all wanted to do these tough expeditions and wildlife work. And most of them picked up a camera as a means to do more wildlife stuff, not the other way around. They didn't go to film school because they were in love with film and they liked animals later in life. And yeah, I've been with the same guys forever.
[00:52:53] And for instance, like Johnny Harrington, my buddy Johnny, the first time we ever worked together, we did a 10-day shoot in Mexico and I gave him a free used wetsuit for that shoot. That was what he got out of it. 10 days, he got a used wetsuit out of it. Now, he's the director of photography for Shark Week.
[00:53:08] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:53:09] Forrest Galante: So he's come a little way since—
[00:53:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah
[00:53:11] Forrest Galante: — working for a free wetsuit. They're sort of all like that, like these guys are incredibly accomplished. They're headhunted by tons of people to go work for them because not a lot of people can do what these guys do and carry a camera and make it look good and all of that stuff. So yeah, I'm very, very blessed to have such a good crew.
[00:53:30] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Forest Galante. We'll be right back.
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[00:57:30] Now for the rest of my conversation with Forrest Galante.
[00:57:35] You can tell they're doing it for the love of, they love everything that they're doing. You'd have to. I mean, you're going to places like Burma, Myanmar, right? And you're bringing drones to film, fly in by the seat of your pants, no pun intended. And later, you find out bringing a drone into Myanmar is a crime punishable by life in prison. Not a fine, not jail time.
[00:57:54] Forrest Galante: Yeah.
[00:57:54] Jordan Harbinger: Literally, life in prison because it's an authoritarian military, right? So it sort of is a death sentence because you're only going to live a few months before you die of preventable disease in a Burmese jail.
[00:58:04] Forrest Galante: Correct. That was terrifying that whole thing. So we smuggled that drone in to get into Myanmar without knowing it. We landed right after the Rohingya massacre had occurred and the journalists that had documented that with drone had been sentenced to life in prison. And our fixer was like, "Hide the drones. Hide the drones." And we were like, "Okay." So we hid the drones, got in, and then found out we had been caught on CCTV. And that basically their TSA, whatever it was, their customs and their police force were like, "Come and turn yourselves in."
[00:58:32] And so we went through this crazy rigamarole, ditching the drones, throwing them in the swamp. We had a runner come in and get the footage at a stoplight, like hand to hand, drop off out of the car window so that they didn't see our footage. Honestly, it was an absolute miracle the way things worked out. When we went to the airport, the power was out and the systems were down and they had to hand check us in Myanmar, and fortunately, our names didn't pop up, so we went in three groups, and the second we sat on the plane, I remember two of our guys actually started crying because they were so happy we weren't going to prison. And I was just slamming gin and tonics because I was just like, I don't know how this is going to go. I mean, it was crazy man. It was like something out of a movie and when you're living through it, you don't really think about it. You're just like, stay focused, stay calm, get through this. Like, talk to these people. Like "Okay, Eddie is over there with that group. Mitch is over there with that group. Like, you two come with me. We're going to check in at different desks." Like, try and be all low key. And yeah, sure enough, we made it out and they never sort of pinned us for the whole drone thing, which was a miracle. Sadly, I don't know if I've ever shared this before, but our fixer got arrested the next day after we flew out. When the systems came back up, they showed up at his house.
[00:59:42] Jordan Harbinger: Oh no.
[00:59:42] Forrest Galante: And they threw him in jail overnight, or I think it was two nights actually. But they couldn't keep him because he didn't have any footage. He didn't have any drone and he wasn't on the CCTV. They knew who he was because he had been with us but by some miracle, the CCTV had been before custom, so he wasn't on the CCTV. He didn't have a drone, he didn't have any footage. There was no photographic evidence of him with us. They had absolutely nothing on him. So he spent a couple of days in prison, apparently, getting it pretty rough, like I don't know if it was quite all the way to torture, but they were definitely, definitely interrogating him very hard. And then, they had to let him go because they had no evidence or proof at all. And yeah, I won't be going back to Myanmar anytime soon.
[01:00:22] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, he must have just been like, "I didn't see the drones. They didn't use the drones. They must have given the drones away before I got there."
[01:00:27] Forrest Galante: No drones.
[01:00:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Oh, man.
[01:00:29] Forrest Galante: Apparently, he just kept saying, no drones. Like that's it. No matter what they did, he just said no drones and then, they let them out.
[01:00:35] Jordan Harbinger: Well, hopefully, they don't bother listening to this podcast.
[01:00:37] Forrest Galante: No, I haven't given any names or anything, so I think we're okay.
[01:00:40] Jordan Harbinger: That's true.
[01:00:40] Forrest Galante: Yeah, no.
[01:00:41] Jordan Harbinger: This is a fictional story. We never went to Burma.
[01:00:43] Forrest Galante: Nope.
[01:00:44] Jordan Harbinger: Tell me about the crocs in Burma that ate all the Japanese soldiers in World War II. This story is freaking crazy, man.
[01:00:52] Forrest Galante: It really is unbelievable and it's like one of these great stories that hasn't been told enough. So the Ramree Island massacre took place in a place called Ramree Island Myanmar during World War II. And what it was, was the Japanese soldiers held Ramree Island against the allies. It was a pivotal military point, a pivotal base for them in Southeast Asia. And at some point in time, the allies came in, invaded the Ramree Island military base, and led to the soldiers fleeing into the swamp. Now, before we go into what happened to those soldiers, these soldiers had been holding this island, the standalone island for over a year, couple of years, I think they had hunted all of the livestock and game on the island cause there's nothing to do and they need fresh meat to eat, you know, which is a typical story in World War II that often never gets told by the way. But, you know, they'd just gone out and shot all of the little deer and things on the island in order to get meat. So all of the crocodiles in the area had nothing to eat.
[01:01:48] So, for two years, which crocodiles were perfectly capable of doing that crocs had gone into basically a state of torpor, which is like dormancy. And they had just gone to sleep around this island because there was no food and they were starving. Well, one night during World War II, the allies invade and they send a thousand Japanese soldiers fleeing into the swamps. Well, guess who woke up?
[01:02:09] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, no.
[01:02:10] Forrest Galante: Several dozen or a hundred hungry saltwater crocodiles all woke up at the same time from the bombing in the massacre and the noise, and they killed a thousand Japanese soldiers in the course of two days.
[01:02:24] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[01:02:24] Forrest Galante: These crocodiles went into something that biologists call henhouse syndrome, which is where a fox gets into a henhouse and is so overwhelmed by the stimulation of that much prey and abundance that they just kill, kill, kill, kill. Even though they're only going to eat one or two chickens, and in this case, one or two soldiers. And so these crocs just went into this maddened state of henhouse syndrome and took out nearly a thousand Japanese soldiers. And barely anybody lived and it's because these soldiers were running through the swamp trying to flee.
[01:02:52] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:02:53] Forrest Galante: So we went there to look at this and we were really, we were the first Westerners that had been to Ramree Island, at least as far as we could tell, since World War II. So it was amazing. Like all the kids came out and like touched our skin and touched our hair and had never seen Westerners before. And it was really cool, an amazing place to film. Hands down, the most difficult shoot I've ever done. I mean, even though we were staying in one place, we weren't trekking a long time. We were nipples deep in the swamp every day. It was boiling, hot leeches everywhere, bats everywhere, everybody got sick. I think I got dysentery, but I'm still not really sure. It was brutal. And yeah, about a week into the shoot, our fixer, the same guy who got arrested comes like running in and we're staying right next to a village in this little like research station, like abandoned research station. And he comes running in and he is like, "There's a boy from the village, there's a boy from the village. He's dying." We go over there and he'd been attacked by one of these crocodiles while we were there. I'll try and keep a long graphic story short, but we rush over there in between college and biology, when I was still trying to figure out what I was doing, I got a bunch of certifications, one of them being my emergency medical technician certification. Plus we had our medic, who I've mentioned before, and so the two of us were feverishly to try and save this boy's life. And the croc had bitten him on the leg, bitten him on the thigh, right bar his femoral artery.
[01:04:09] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh.
[01:04:09] Forrest Galante: But he hadn't severed it so he wasn't bleeding out there. But then he had let go of that bitten on the boy's arm and done a death roll. And the arm was just jello, you know, he'd broken it in 25, 30 places. But then the lacerations were really bad too. And so we stabilized the arm, stabilized the wounds, blah, blah, blah. And thank God, because they had in that area was canoes. So it was probably a two or three-day canoe ride from the village to the nearest town. But we had a speedboat that had gotten us in and out of there. So we put the kid on the speedboat and the calamity. I was like, "Just go, just go. I don't care what it costs, blah, blah." Because they started haggling about price for the speedboat. I was like, "I don't give a sh*t. Go." And they rushed the kid to the hospital after we stabilized him and he lost the arm but he did survive.
[01:04:50] Jordan Harbinger: That's incredible. And should you be nipples deep in a swamp that has saltwater crocodiles or are they not in that area of the swamp?
[01:04:56] Forrest Galante: No, we should not have been.
[01:04:57] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[01:04:58] Forrest Galante: We shaped up a lot after that. So we were there. We had barely seen any. I mean, we'd seen crocodiles, but few of them because a lot of them had been hunted and stuff like that. And so we were sort of very lackadaisical about safety and we were like in the mud right next to the water and tossing cameras to each other and trekking around and filming and all this stuff. And then this kid got munched and we shaped up a lot. We were like, no more being in the water, no more being in the mud. We were just lucky that nothing had happened in the 10 days or so leading up to that, to any of us. Sadly, it happened to this kid who was fishing on sort of a different part of the swamp, but irrelevant. You know, it could have been any one of us.
[01:05:34] Jordan Harbinger: And he knew those crocs were there too because he's from there. So, it seems like you guys just got really lucky that it wasn't one of you.
[01:05:42] Forrest Galante: We got really lucky. He was also fishing, right? And so he had fish blood in the water and stuff like that, and nets in the water. And so he was sort of leaving a bigger footprint. But it could happen to anybody at any time, anywhere. And that's the thing about crocodiles. It doesn't matter if it's nile crocodiles, saltwater crocodiles, it just takes one to decide that they're going to come and chow and there's not much you can do about it, especially in these murky, muddy swamps. So we were being dumb and I say that outright in hindsight, like we were being dumb with the way we were behaving around that swamp because we weren't seeing a lot of crocodiles. And then, yeah, this whole thing happened and we're like, holy crap. We need to be a lot more aware of what we're doing.
[01:06:20] Jordan Harbinger: Can you imagine being one of those Japanese soldiers? You're running and you are like, "Wait, where are these other guys?" And you just see parts of them floating around and you're like, holy sh*t.
[01:06:29] Forrest Galante: Imagine the screams.
[01:06:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:06:30] Forrest Galante: You know, just like, ah, and it's dark. This has all happened at night, by the way.
[01:06:34] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[01:06:35] Forrest Galante: You're running through a swamp. You don't know if the allies are right behind you with guns. All of a sudden something grabs you by the waist or the hip and you don't really know what it is. You can't see it, you can't fight it off. Yeah, it would've been unbelievably insane.
[01:06:47] Jordan Harbinger: It's like a horror movie and then just you're regrouping, but there's less and less and less. And then somebody gets you. It's like Jaws, but there's a thousand crocodiles.
[01:06:55] Forrest Galante: Exactly.
[01:06:56] Jordan Harbinger: You just get it sucked under the water suddenly.
[01:06:58] Forrest Galante: It's a lot scarier than Jaws. Anybody can deal with one white shark. This is a lot scarier than Jaws.
[01:07:03] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah, no kidding. Oh my gosh, it's so scary. And look, I know that this is like they were on the wrong side of World War II, but like these are still humans.
[01:07:10] Forrest Galante: Who cares? These are people. Yeah, these are people with families and it doesn't matter what side you were on, it was brutal for them. Yeah.
[01:07:17] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. So did you end up finding the croc? I know you were looking for one specific crocodile, right?
[01:07:25] Forrest Galante: We were, yeah. We were looking for a croc that the locals dubbed asWhitenose, who's the same croc that hit the boy apparently when we didn't see it, but that we were told it was. And he was massive. And the reason we were looking for him is he would've been around during World War II and likely one of the culprits.
[01:07:40] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Crocs live that long, eh?
[01:07:41] Forrest Galante: They do, yeah. So he likely ate a bunch of people during World War II and during the Ramree Island massacre, and we did end up catching him a second to last day. We caughtWhitenose and took a tissue sample from him and carbon dated it and stuff like that. And I wasn't on camera for any of this, by the way. This was for a history channel show I produced called Face the Beast. That was a lot of fun. A famous wildlife lunatic like myself named Andrew Ucles was the host of it. It was a fantastic show, but yeah, I was just there to produce it and help put it together, but crazy stuff.
[01:08:12] Jordan Harbinger: Crazy that croc probably still has epaulets in his stomach if he ate it.
[01:08:16] Forrest Galante: Yeah. Seriously.
[01:08:17] Jordan Harbinger: That's—
[01:08:17] Forrest Galante: Yeah.
[01:08:18] Jordan Harbinger: —freaking nuts. So what did you do? You just took a tissue sample and you're like, "All right, go back in the water and maybe try not to kill villagers here."
[01:08:26] Forrest Galante: We moved him and the locals did not want to kill him or anything, which was good because we thought it was going to be pretty sensitive, especially when we actually finally got him. We're like, "This isn't going to go well. Like, they're just going to want to murder this croc because he's chowed a bunch of people."
[01:08:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:08:39] Forrest Galante: And it was interesting because the Myanmar people that we were with, I don't remember the specific group, but they didn't feel that way. They were just like, "This is what crocodiles do. Please just take him away." And so we did, we moved him and let him go.
[01:08:50] Jordan Harbinger: That's really interesting. They know their place in the ecosystem, I guess in the food chain and they just have a reverence for the animal.
[01:08:58] Forrest Galante: It was very surprising to be honest because growing up in Zimbabwe and I even posted a croc that I caught today actually on my Instagram, t hey would much rather, for the most part, want to kill the crocodiles, you know?
[01:09:10] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[01:09:11] Forrest Galante: And so I don't know what it was about this particular group in Myanmar that felt this way, but yeah, they didn't want to kill it. We weren't going to kill it either way, right? That was out. But it's like we either catch it and let it go and say nothing, which was not really an option because we were working with these local people, but I was certainly never going to allow that crocodile to be killed. I thought it was going to be much more delicate and it wasn't. They were like, "No, no, you don't need to kill it. It's just a crocodile being a crocodile," which was amazing that they had that awareness.
[01:09:36] Jordan Harbinger: Was that the most dangerous place you've been to in terms of wildlife? I mean the government aside in terms of wildlife, would you say that Burma is the most dangerous? Or is it a crapshoot?
[01:09:45] Forrest Galante: Not even close.
[01:09:46] Jordan Harbinger: Not even close?
[01:09:47] Forrest Galante: No, not even close. No, no, no, no. I mean, that was dangerous just because of that particular individual crocodile. But I mean, granted, I haven't worked much around polar bears, and I've heard they can be pretty tricky. But you know, there's nowhere like dealing with the Zambezi Delta in Southern Africa, Mozambique parts of Zimbabwe where you got to watch your step at every point. And so that's by far the most dangerous when it comes to the wildlife.
[01:10:12] Jordan Harbinger: What's the scariest animal you've encountered? We hear a lot about hippos, but I'm like, is that basic bitches only compared to what you've seen on your adventures?
[01:10:19] Forrest Galante: No, no, not at all. Hippos are terrible.
[01:10:21] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[01:10:22] Forrest Galante: I've had two very, very close calls to losing my life with hippos and they're unpredictable. They're very nervous animal. I would never call it hippo, an aggressive animal, which is a mistake that I think a lot of people make.
[01:10:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's what you hear.
[01:10:34] Forrest Galante: Yeah. And they're not aggressive. They're nervous. They're a very nervy animal and they get startled quickly. They don't have a fight-or-flight reflex. They have a fight reflex. So when they're startled, they go into fight mode. They don't have a flight mode. That's the deal with hippos. And if they can't sink underwater and feel comfortable, they're very, very on edge. And couple that with like bad eyesight and this, that, and the other thing. And they're very, very dangerous. And yeah, I've had a canoe flipped over and I've had one charged me. Both times, you know, nothing really bad happened, but it was very, very close. And it's between the hippo and the Cape buffalo, there's nothing else more dangerous. Lions and all these predators and certain, all these things our Aussie friends talk about, don't even compare to Cape buffalo and hippo.
[01:11:15] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[01:11:15] Forrest Galante: They're by far the scariest. Oh yeah.
[01:11:17] Jordan Harbinger: Are hippos fast? They look like they could be f like low-key fast.
[01:11:21] Forrest Galante: Oh yeah. No, I'd have to look it up, but they're very fast. I think they're like 25 miles an hour on land.
[01:11:26] Jordan Harbinger: Whoa.
[01:11:27] Forrest Galante: 19 miles an hour.
[01:11:29] Jordan Harbinger: That's fast. Because they look just like chubby little vegetarian water. Like, you kind of look at them in a manatee and you're like, eh, they're kind of similar.
[01:11:36] Forrest Galante: Yeah. Word hippopotamus means water horse, right?
[01:11:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:11:39] Forrest Galante: It's looked at as this like gentle blubbery, sweet little thing. But no, they're really not. Anybody listening to this if you want to see something incredible, just look up like two male hippos fighting for territory. And you'll understand like it's not much, their tusks, their size, their strength. I mean, they're crazy things.
[01:11:58] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, if you think about it, they live in the water with crocodiles and stuff, and they're doing fine.
[01:12:02] Forrest Galante: Yep.
[01:12:02] Jordan Harbinger: So if the crocs, they're staying away from them, they're probably pretty, pretty intimidating.
[01:12:06] Forrest Galante: They coexist with Nile crocodiles, which are much tougher and meaner than saltwater crocodiles because they eat land animals constantly. That's what they eat. It's herbivores, right? Saltwater crocodiles, don't get me wrong, they'll kill a person. They can be terrible, but they're primarily fish eaters. So hippos have to live in a space where they have large crocodiles that prey on animals like them. If they don't have that ability to defend themselves and their babies, they're offspring, they're gone. So, yeah, no, they're crazy.
[01:12:34] Jordan Harbinger: What do you do when you get attacked by hippopotamus?
[01:12:37] Forrest Galante: Well, I wouldn't say I've ever been attacked because I don't really know what that would entail but I've been charged by this one that came out of this pan and another time I had a canoe flipped. There's no stand your ground. Certain animals like an elephant mock charges, you stand your ground, you put your hand up, you say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa." You don't turn and run, right?
[01:12:52] Jordan Harbinger: Like a horse.
[01:12:53] Forrest Galante: Yeah. A lot of predatory animals, you do not turn your back and run, right? That's the worst thing you can do. You stand your ground. There's no standing your ground with a hippo. If a hippo's coming at you, you go, and so that's best thing you can do. They're not as maneuverable as a human, so they'll beat you in a straight line. But if you can duck behind a big baobab tree, sausage tree, or behind a termite mound, or get up something. I guess that's the best you can do. But it's like so situational, right? Are you on land? Are you in a canoe? I'm not going to sit here and tell people how to avoid a hippo because there isn't really a way. Just don't get that bloody close is the answer.
[01:13:27] Jordan Harbinger: Have you ever had to put an animal down? Like, are you ever getting something so close to you and you have to shoot it or cut it or whatever?
[01:13:34] Forrest Galante: I very rarely carry a gun. Pretty much the only time I carry a gun is when I've been around bears. I've carried a gun a few times, and then, walking through the bush in Africa, I've carried a side arm. Just, you know, basically, they're just noise-making machines. But it is situational. I've never had to put down an animal. I fired a weapon a few. But you know, like when we were in Zimbabwe, the last time I was filming there we were darting lions.
[01:13:56] Jordan Harbinger: Darting lions? Is that like tagging an animal?
[01:13:59] Forrest Galante: You're putting collars on them.
[01:14:00] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, okay.
[01:14:00] Forrest Galante: So shoot them with a tranquilizer, put them to sleep, put a collar on them. It's also very dangerous work. We were on foot, tracking through the bush and we had a pretty rough standoff with a black rhino. In hindsight, you know, my cameraman, Mitch, he said to me, he is like, "Well, you had that gun. You never even took it out." And I said to him and I mean this, I was like, "Think how many people there are in this world. Eight billion, right? How many rhinos are there left?" I was like, "There is nothing that would've made me pull that gun out. I would much rather that rhino kill me when I'm putting myself in that situation than I kill it because I've come into its house and startled it," you know? And I mean that. Now, different situations with different creatures, but there's not a lot of situations in which I just shoot something in the head because it charged me after I was the one that was in its home.
[01:14:44] Jordan Harbinger: Are rhinos similar in temperament to hippos?
[01:14:47] Forrest Galante: No, they're not. So they have awful eyesight and very good sense of smell. So what happens in the bush sometimes is you're downwind of them and you pop up on them and they get startled. You know, like most things in the African bush, they'll defend themselves when they're startled because that is much better than running away. They don't have a similar temperament at all. They're not assertive or they're not trying to fight. Because 99 percent of the time you would never be able to walk up on a rhino. They'll smell you and take off. They just don't want to have anything to do with you. But if they feel startled or cornered, they're going to turn and charge. Whereas a hippo, they feel startled immediately and they're coming at you as quick as they can, basically in the right situation.
[01:15:25] Jordan Harbinger: I would imagine the actual most dangerous creature is like a mosquito, just in terms of how many people it's killed, right?
[01:15:31] Forrest Galante: Of course, yeah, in fatalities, yeah, mosquito. I mean, you can Google that all day long. By far, the most dangerous animal is a mosquito in the world.
[01:15:40] Jordan Harbinger: It's like hundreds of millions of deaths. Over however long they've been counting mosquito death. It's hundreds and or maybe more—
[01:15:47] Forrest Galante: Oh yeah.
[01:15:47] Jordan Harbinger: —if you extrapolate like through time.
[01:15:49] Forrest Galante: Your likelihood of being killed by any of the things we're talking about, you know, it's much sexier to talk about a shark bite or a hippo attack, but your likelihood of being killed by them is astronomically small and your likelihood of getting malaria and dying is pretty damn high when you're in the right region. So, you know, it's not even close.
[01:16:06] Jordan Harbinger: Mosquitoes kill seven to 800,000 people per year.
[01:16:10] Forrest Galante: Right.
[01:16:10] Jordan Harbinger: So if you just do that for a few thousand years, right? Because I assume that's been constant. That's how deadly they are. My friend, Justin Wren, who you may know just through different circles, he's a fighter. He goes to Africa, deals with Pygmies. He's had malaria a bunch of times and he's a really tough guy. And he's like, it's the worst.
[01:16:27] Forrest Galante: It's brutal. Yeah, it's brutal. I've seen it. I, fortunately, haven't had it that I'm aware of. And it's brutal. I've seen it. I saw my grandpa get it. I've seen a lot of people get it. It's awful. and it's funny because it's very avoidable. You don't need to take Malarone in those horrible things. I can't stand those drugs. All you have to do, at least in Africa, is cover up at night, wear long sleeves. It's all you have to do. It's very, very simple. But yeah, it's brutal.
[01:16:51] Jordan Harbinger: There's so much more that I want to ask you. I'm going to have to have you come back. I know you got a meeting coming up, so I'm going to let you go. But thank you very much for coming on, man. This stuff is fascinating and again, I've got like a whole nother show's worth of notes.
[01:17:03] Forrest Galante: Sure.
[01:17:04] Jordan Harbinger: When you get back from your next — where are you going next?
[01:17:07] Forrest Galante: So I take off for Africa next week. I'll be in South Africa filming some endemic shark species there for three weeks. And then I have a couple of days off. I'm going to visit some friends, and then I'm heading straight to probably the number one bucket list place for me right now, which is Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia to look at the relationship between tiger sharks and sea snakes and measure sea snake venom toxicity. So then, I'll be there until April. So yeah, that'll be fun.
[01:17:33] Jordan Harbinger: Do you have to catch the snakes to measure that?
[01:17:35] Forrest Galante: Certainly, yeah. That's what we're milking. Yep.
[01:17:37] Jordan Harbinger: Man, you got to catch a sea snake and milk it. I'm sure that doesn't sound like something they enjoy either.
[01:17:44] Forrest Galante: Yeah, they don't, to be honest. But you know, if you don't do these studies, then we don't learn about the effects of the venom and so on and so forth and it'll be great. It'll be a lot of fun. Great adventure, you know, pretty harmless to take a little venom from a snake and throw it back in the water.
[01:17:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:17:58] Forrest Galante: Harmless to them, anyway. Let's just hope none of us get a scratch.
[01:18:01] Jordan Harbinger: That's right. Hey, sometimes you just got to milk a snake. And I think that's the lesson we're going to take with us from this episode into the rest of the week.
[01:18:08] Forrest, thank you so much, man.
[01:18:09] Forrest Galante: Thanks for having me.
[01:18:12] Jordan Harbinger: You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show about the warning signs for civil War.
[01:18:17] Barbara F. Walter: There were times when I was writing that I myself started to get terrified. Is this right? Am I getting this right? Because what I'm saying is going to hit people hard, there have been hundreds of studies of civil wars. The group that tends to start these wars are the ones dominant groups that are in decline. The group that has been politically, socially, economically dominant since the very beginning of this country, white Christian males, for the most part. America is going through this radical demographic transition from a white majority country to a white minority country. White working class men have declined on most social and economic measures. That hasn't happened with any other demographic group. And there's a subset of this population that's deeply resentful of that, that's deeply threatened by that, and truly, truly believe that it's their patriotic duty to do something about this.
[01:19:16] January 6th was so public, it was so obvious. This is part of a far-right white supremacist, non-federal government movement here in the United States. We know that some of the far-right militias, the Oathkeepers, the Proud Boys, and the Three Percenters actively encouraged members to join the military to join law enforcement. If you continuously portray this as these are just crazy individuals, then you remain blind to what's actually the cancer that's growing slowly from within.
[01:19:54] Jordan Harbinger: To hear whether we are on the cusp of a civil war here in the United States, check out episode 718 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:20:02] Man, this dude is fascinating. I'll tell you. He would memorize the Audubon Society Field Guide, which is basically a dictionary of animals. Imagine memorizing the dictionary so that you could write. That's what he was doing, but with animals. I can't wait to do part two. I got a ton of notes left. We're going to be doing that one in the summer, I think. Hopefully, he makes it back from wherever he makes it back. The guy takes a lot of risk as you guys are going to see, if you watch any of his stuff. I'll save my other notes and conclusions for that episode and I'll keep it short and sweet on this one.
[01:20:29] All Things Forrest will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. You can also search for any show notes, all the transcripts, all the sponsors and everything we've ever done on this show with our ChatGPT bot at jordanharbinger.com/ai. Transcripts are in the show notes. Videos up on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, discount codes, and ways to support the show are all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support the show. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram, and you can also connect with me right there on LinkedIn.
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[01:21:24] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, and Gabriel Mizrahi. And you remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. And if you know somebody who loves nature documentaries or just get a real kick out of this conversation, definitely share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next.
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[01:22:01] This episode is sponsored in part by the Mea Culpa podcast. Mea Culpa is hosted by Michael Cohen, who is Donald Trump's fixer, lawyer, right hand for over a decade. He, of course, went to prison because he defied his former boss. The Mea Culpa podcast is his redemption tour of sorts. Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen delivers political news, raw and unfiltered. Plus Michael, well, let's just say he's an opinionated guy. Twice weekly, Mea Culpa features the most important people in politics, offering listeners rare insight into what's happening that they can get no place else. His guests are a who's who of politics, media, and beyond, especially on the left, as you might guess — James Carville, Joe Trippy, John Dean, Laurence Tribe, Ari Melber, Joy Reid, Kathy Griffin — oh, she's a fan favorite, isn't she? Congressman Steve Cohen, Elie Honig, Neal Katyal, Norm Eisen, Molly Jong-Fast, Sam Donaldson, Ben Stiller. That's probably a fun one. You never know who's going to show up and what they will say. And if you're on the right, you're probably going to hate this podcast. Don't shoot the message here. But hey, if you lean left, do yourself a favor, check out Mea Culpa wherever you get your podcasts. Find it in your favorite podcast app.
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