Israeli-born activist and writer Drori describes his love affair with Africa and his efforts to enforce wildlife laws there.
In 2003, the author created the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA), which works to prosecute violators of Cameroon’s wildlife laws protecting apes, elephants and other endangered species. Inspired by Jane Goodall’s prediction that the great apes will soon be extinct, Drori observed that the main factor driving gorillas toward extinction was not subsistence hunting or habitat loss, but rather the widespread illegal commercial trading in live apes and bush meat. By winning the support of wildlife officials, police and the courts, LAGA has helped arrest and prosecute major criminals. Many readers will be disappointed by the relatively short shrift given to LAGA’s important work, which involves mapping the flow of ivory and endangered species along African trade routes and staging dangerous stings on poachers and dealers. Drori devotes most of the book to his personal quest for adventure and meaning in Africa, where he traveled widely after serving in the Israeli military. Sometimes reckless, always pushing himself, he faced many dangerous moments but also came to appreciate the people and natural riches of the continent. An encounter with a captive chimp convinced him of the need to act against “an old system” of corruption, beginning with the fight to save animals.
There is no denying the author’s passion for Africa’s wildlife, his hatred of corruption, and his conviction that anyone can help foster change through individual action, but most of the narrative is unfocused and meandering.