AT THE HAND OF MAN by Raymond Bonner


Peril and Hope for Africa's Wildlife
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 In a book that's bound to be controversial, New Yorker staff writer Bonner (Weakness and Deceit, 1984) charges Western animal- rights activists with practicing ``eco-colonialism,'' which he deems as detrimental to the people of Africa as old-style colonialism. Bonner--who recently spent some time in Africa and is an avowed advocate of environmental stewardship--notes that, in a continent where the population has increased from 100 million to 450 million in under a century, it's unrealistic to expect impoverished Africans to give up more land to wildlife so that the continent can remain the fantasy wild kingdom that Westerners yearn for. Africans and animals, he contends, will have to evolve some tenable modus vivendi if wildlife is not to disappear and Africans not to starve. But Western organizations--including all the big- name environmental groups--focus exclusively on animals, reflecting decisions that more often have to do with fund-raising than with reality. To illustrate how these groups manipulate the public and politicians, Bonner traces the history of the 1989 decision to enact the current international ban on the sale of ivory--by his account, a sordid tale of money-driven environmentalists, Western emotionalism, and political posturing and opportunism. Bonner says that elephants aren't likely to disappear and that, in areas like Zimbabwe and Namibia, thanks to projects like Campfire, they are actually thriving. Moreover, these projects not only involve the local people but also distribute the revenues gained from tourism and from selective culling. But too many environmentalists, Bonner says, ignore the plight of Africans, push a Western-based agenda, and neglect to educate their members on the devastating impact of unbridled wildlife on the ecosystem. ``It's too easy to impose bans,'' he forcefully concludes. Tough, timely talk: an important book on an increasingly hot topic.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-40008-7
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993


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