ISLANDS OF HOPE by Phillip Manning


Lessons from North America's Great Wildlife Sanctuaries
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Manning’s (Afoot in the South, not reviewed) compendious tour of ten wildlife refuges clarifies the tribulations of such establishments, as well as their critical importance. As the debate on the application of island biogeography to wildlife management muddles on, Manning takes a moment to visit a handful of refuges to see how things are going: are these sanctuaries meeting the protective expectations they were designed for? Does their modest size and fragmentation foreclose on their value? According to Manning, these places are our last best hope: they may need some fine-tuning, they need to factor in new variables as they appear, yet their importance to wildlife is plain as day. Without the El Rosario Preserve in Michoac†n, Mexico, one of the two monarch butterfly populations would vanish; that the Mexican government needs to better compensate local wood harvesters for the protection of the oyamel forest is part of the process. And while a lack of balance between coyotes and pronghorn antelope is diminishing the effectiveness of Oregon’s Hart Mountain Refuge, and cattails, carp, and geese are vexing Wisconsin’s Horicon Refuge, they are laboratories in which nature reveals its fluid and mysterious ways. On the other hand, a problem-free example of environmental safeguarding is the Bonaire Marine Park, where strict laws shield the coral reefs from the damage other reefs are victim to, such as pollution and anchor damage and starfish plagues due to nutrient runoff. The brevity of this work takes a toll on Manning’s prose, which can get gluey, and occasionally he affects a painful hayseed quality: “Katrina Davis, the office manager at Bon Secour, has long, brown hair, a big smile, and a story to tell.” Then again, the concision serves to amplify his point that paradise can be small to a bird or a buffalo. Though Manning’s contribution is dwarfed by David Quammen’s Song of the Dodo, it’s in the tradition of much wildlife management: another small, incremental benefit to be valued.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-89587-183-1
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: John F. Blair
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1999