Animals on the brink

2010-05-05 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Hope for Animals and Their World

Jane Goodall with Thane ­Mynard and Gail Hudson

Icon Books

HOPE for Animals and Their World is a fascinating account of animals that are or have been sitting on the brink of extinction and humankind’s untiring efforts to save the species, which mostly have been decimated by our own actions in the first place.

It allows the reader a glimpse into the habitat of animals and plants most of us have never heard of and the fact that all life is so tenuous niggles as the plight of each is described.

Goodall takes the reader around the globe, stopping on our own KwaZulu-Natal coast to discover the ­coelacanth and the marvelous mysteries of this animal.

From the giant Californian condor, wiped out by eating lead cartridges in the carcasses it fed on causing secondary poisoning, to the Peregrine falcon who was encouraged to copulate with a special semen-collecting hat worn by a poker-faced researcher, the chapters are interesting and detailed.

The book makes you envious of the countless men and women who tirelessly battle bureaucracy and the unexpected, to do something so worthwhile. Imagine the thrill of saving a species. But, it’s generally no easy feat, and their challenges are many, as relayed in their personal field notes.

The kind of book I dipped into rather than read cover to cover, it filled gaps between other books nicely.

The book is written in the first person,and it’s nice to get a sense of the voice of the much-revered Goodall of chimpanzee research fame, who quotes, “while there is life, there is hope”, a maxim the book reinforces over and over again.

The only criticism I have is that I was amazed to see a hardcover book with more black and white photographs than colour, and I felt it difficult to decide on the hues of those animals relegated to mere greyscale. A disappointment indeed, but a really worthy read.

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