A heartening collection of conservation success stories from world-renowned primatologist Goodall (Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating, 2005, etc.), with field notes from Cincinnati Zoo director Maynard (Komodo Dragons, 2006, etc.)
At 75, the author of the classic In the Shadow of Man (1971) offers good news about the environment drawn from her worldwide travels with the Jane Goodall Institute. Writing with warmth and good humor, the author presents a cornucopia of stories about people and groups who have worked tirelessly—and often against great odds—to save or help in the recovery of more than two-dozen animal species on the brink of extinction. Based on in-person conversations with biologists and others, her chatty accounts paint a vivid picture of how captive breeding and other initiatives by passionate individuals, governments and NGOs have brought back species nearly decimated by development, hunting, pollution and other human activities. A few stories are familiar, such as the establishment of a new migratory flock of whooping cranes—Goodall flew in an ultra-light aircraft that leads young cranes to winter quarters in Florida—but most have been little-noticed. These include China’s Milu deer (aka Père David’s Deer), which barely survived food deprivations in two world wars, were saved by several Europeans and reintroduced in China from a British estate in 1986; the dwindling golden lion tamarins of Brazil, which were bred at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., until they could be released in Brazil with the help of local farmers; and the millions of Asian vultures that once cleaned up cattle carcasses in India and Pakistan are returning after actions to eliminate two recently discovered threats—the drug Diclofenac, which is lethal to the birds, and the harmful powdered-glass coatings on kite strings, often used in Asia’s popular kite festivals. Notable sections of the book describe efforts to save birds on isolated island environments threatened by alien species—all but 18 of the remaining Stephen’s Island wrens off the coast of New Zealand were killed by a lighthouse keeper’s cat in the late 19th century—and the discovery of new species and ecosystems, such as an Israeli cave system sealed off for more than two million years.
An upbeat compendium that will energize both hands-on and armchair conservationists.