A stirring account by two dedicated and courageous conservationists.

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SECRETS OF THE SAVANNA

TWENTY-THREE YEARS IN THE AFRICAN WILDERNESS UNRAVELING THE MYSTERIES OF ELEPHANTS AND PEOPLE

Bittersweet sequel to The Eye of the Elephant (1993), chronicling the authors’ efforts to eliminate elephant poaching in Zambia.

As related in their first book, Cry of the Kalahari (1984), the Owenses lived for seven years in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, studying black-maned lions. Expelled from Botswanna in the early 1980s, they relocated to Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park, where they developed a conservation project that “offered jobs to poachers, would-be poachers, and other villagers.” Over the next ten years, the couple provided loans and job training for small businesses such as beekeeping, grinding mills and midwifery. At the time their project began, 93 percent of the park’s elephants had been killed; the Owenses hoped to report a recovery of sorts once an ivory ban was in place. This volume opens in the early 1990s, with Delia and a former poacher measuring elephant tracks for a study intended to reveal what percentage of the group could breed and whether or not the population was growing. In the 1970s, before heavy poaching, 50 percent of the female elephants were of breeding age (more than 15 years old). Twenty years later, Delia discovered that only eight percent of the current female population was old enough to breed. So why were there so many infants in the group: Were the elephants, contrary to all previous studies, adopting orphaned calves? This mystery is paired with development profiles of micro-businesses in 14 different villages. The effort put into the conservation project by the Owenses, the villagers and others is inspiring. But the project’s success generated jealousy; just when its management could been taken over by local staff, so that Mark and Delia could devote themselves full-time to studying elephants, their lives were threatened by corrupt officials. Reluctantly, the couple left Zambia for the U.S., where they now work to help grizzly-bear populations recover in the Pacific Northwest.

A stirring account by two dedicated and courageous conservationists.

Pub Date: May 24, 2006

ISBN: 0-395-89310-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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An authoritative, engaging study of plant life, accessible to younger readers as well as adults.

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF PLANTS

A neurobiologist reveals the interconnectedness of the natural world through stories of plant migration.

In this slim but well-packed book, Mancuso (Plant Science/Univ. of Florence; The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behavior, 2018, etc.) presents an illuminating and surprisingly lively study of plant life. He smoothly balances expansive historical exploration with recent scientific research through stories of how various plant species are capable of migrating to locations throughout the world by means of air, water, and even via animals. They often continue to thrive in spite of dire obstacles and environments. One example is the response of plants following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Three decades later, the abandoned “Exclusion Zone” is now entirely covered by an enormous assortment of thriving plants. Mancuso also tracks the journeys of several species that might be regarded as invasive. “Why…do we insist on labeling as ‘invasive’ all those plants that, with great success, have managed to occupy new territories?” asks the author. “On a closer look, the invasive plants of today are the native flora of the future, just as the invasive species of the past are a fundamental part of our ecosystem today.” Throughout, Mancuso persuasively articulates why an understanding and appreciation of how nature is interconnected is vital to the future of our planet. “In nature everything is connected,” he writes. “This simple law that humans don’t seem to understand has a corollary: the extinction of a species, besides being a calamity in and of itself, has unforeseeable consequences for the system to which the species belongs.” The book is not without flaws. The loosely imagined watercolor renderings are vague and fail to effectively complement Mancuso’s richly descriptive prose or satisfy readers’ curiosity. Even without actual photos and maps, it would have been beneficial to readers to include more finely detailed plant and map renderings.

An authoritative, engaging study of plant life, accessible to younger readers as well as adults.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63542-991-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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