APPOINTMENT AT THE ENDS OF THE WORLD by William B. Karesh

APPOINTMENT AT THE ENDS OF THE WORLD

Memoirs of a Wildlife Veterinarian
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The life of a globetrotting animal doctor, ungussied and enthusiastic. This is not so much a memoir as a diary of five missions Karesh undertook in aid of rare wildlife. A veterinarian for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Karesh often finds himself in the remotest patches, there to work with indigenous people and the local political structure to determine the overall health of a wildlife population, train biologists, and do research on and minister to the animals. While Karesh obviously loves his work, in principal and in practice, it fast becomes clear that it’s an arduous, risky, and uncomfortable business. Not just because he sleeps most nights on damp ground in strange places with dangerous animals, but because of the humans, the most violently unpredictable of creatures, bureaucratic martinets and teenagers waving AK-47s—far worse than jumped rhinos. Karesh tells his story in an unadorned voice, as much an educator as a veterinarian. He wants readers to get a full picture of the places he goes, and to that end he doesn’t confine himself to conservation matters alone, but saturates the pages with topical sidebars that have an impact on his work. These include the spread of HIV in Africa and the constant low level of terror that comes from simply living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; satellite tracking of elephants and pygmy culture; the role of coca and the evolution of an oxbow lake, and dozens more. Whether he is determining if peccaries maintain the natural architecture of the Bolivian woodlands, gauging the health of macaws in the forest canopy of Peru, or poking his finger in the eye of Birute Galdikas’s orangutan project, Karesh is a humble man, with a respectfully guarded openness. Anyone contemplating the life of a roving veterinarian should commune with these pages. Likely 95 percent will reevaluate their career options. (b&w photos throughout, 16 pages color photos)

Pub Date: June 11th, 1999
ISBN: 0-446-52371-2
Page count: 384pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999




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