Companion volume to an upcoming MSNBC documentary on the plight of the nearly 17,000 animal species now threatened with extinction.
Biologist, conservationist and Animal Planet star Corwin recounts his heartwarming experiences travelling the globe to film rare animals and their devoted human caretakers. The author writes that more than 3,200 species are considered to be critically endangered—some with fewer than 100 individuals—and he estimates that “if the rate of extinction isn’t slowed, by the end of the century, more than half the animal species alive today will be lost forever.” Travelling to Alaska, Corwin joined scientists who track polar bears across melting icecaps, marking and tagging them. In Africa, he observed the Mediterranean monk seal, now estimated to number fewer than 400. The author’s journey to India provided him with the opportunity to watch a 700-pound Bengal tiger hunt deer at Ranthambore National Park. Fortunately, writes Corwin, many animals are being brought back from the brink. In Indonesia, he witnessed an orangutan—rescued as an infant after his mother was killed—released back into the wild after years of training him to identify hundreds of edible plants and schooling him in “the rules of territoriality, which are different for males and females.” Here the author is quick to note that “with creatures this complex, rehabilitation requires a staggering investment of time and money.” Corwin experienced one of his most poignant moments in Hawaii, when he saw the puaiohi thrush, one of only 15 individuals left in the species. Although at first sight it looked ordinary, “it…transformed into the most vivid bird I’d ever seen. Every little feather, every twitch of its head seemed as vital an expression of life force as I’d ever witnessed.”
Corwin advances the important message that every heartbeat matters.