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When she's not at her Adirondack cabin, site of Woodswoman (1976), Anne LaBastille is off surveying wildlife in Central and South America, attending international conclaves, and, on the evidence here, turning men's heads. We find her first, in 1964, at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala studying the flightless giant pie-billed grebe--down from 200, at last count, to 80. Are the Indian reed cutters destroying their habitat? Are wealthy hunters decimating their number? Or could the culprit be the newly-introduced big black bass, known to gobble up young waterfowl? With much girlish burbling (""What could a lone female wildlife ecologist do?"") and much help from local swain Armando (""We'll get to the bottom of this""), LaBastille gets the necessary grants, rouses key officials (""I had hit on the two points most persuasive to the Latin mentality--national pride and economics""), and, in due hazardous, rapturous course (""Armando and I looked at each other and then. . .""), manages to set up a giant grebe refuge; and, subsequently, a reserve for the endangered iguana. Now brandishing a Ph.D., she lands surveying assignments of varying interest and consequence on tiny Anegada (in the British West Indies), in Panama and the Dominican Republic; comes face to face with the ""undaunted tiger eyes"" of Indira Gandhi at a New Delhi conference (and comes away a bolder, more ""professional"" woman); wins the World Wildlife Fund's 1974 Gold Medal--and a luncheon invitation from J. Paul Getty--for her work in Central America; and has an opportunity to tour the Amazon Basin with simpatico male company. The concluding sections follow up on the earlier projects and offer some predictions. One-third fact and two-thirds fluff, but not inappropriate on that score for some readers of Gerald Durrell, who contributes an admiring introduction.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1980
Publisher: Dutton