Jul 24, 2010

Tigerland

and Other Unintended Destinations
by Eric Dinerstein

Dinerstein tells us readers that he wasn't one who had "an idyllic childhood spent in the company of bugs and salamanders." Instead, he fell in love with nature quite suddenly during his college years, and switched his studies from film to biology. His first experiences in the field were as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, where he helped track tiger populations and determine the needs of prey that support the big striped cats. From there he fell in love with bats in the tropics, hiked through mountainous ranges looking for snow leopards, and traveled to all sorts of exotic and far-flung places in the misson to save wildlife (including the amazing Galapagos Islands!) Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations chronicles a lifetime's work. Like The Lion's Eye it shows what the nitty gritty of a field biologist's work really is, but here we have the broad spectrum: attending lectures, collaborating with colleagues, searching for funding, working with local villagers toward solutions, etc etc. More than any other this book has given me a sense of what a complicated, team effort wildlife conservation is; not a chapter goes by where Dinerstein doesn't mention his fellow biologists (with all their credentials) and how they work together to encourage leaders of nations as well as the ordinary public to get involved in the fight to save wild places. The book didn't flow easy for me as other reads have; I get distracted reading about the travels and politicking; I'd much rather hear the anecdotal tales of animal behavior. Most times here hours of tracking are described with just a mere (thrilling) glimpse of the animal after all that effort. Honestly, my interest was starting to flag a bit until I got near the end where the work with American bison and black-footed ferrets was discussed. It warmed my heart to read of progress there, also the amazing success in restoring areas for tigers and other wildlife, which he witnessed upon returning to Nepal almost thirty years after being there with the Peace Corps. I described some of those results to my five-year-old, who was still worried about tigers' habitat loss from that kid's book we read, and she was so thrilled to hear of tiger populations recovering that she leaped up and gave me a hug.

Thanks to this book I now want to read anything by David Attenborough I can find (luckily my library has many!) and Marvels of Animal Behavior by Thomas Allen.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 279 pages, 2005

More opinions at: Orient Black Swan and Tahrcountry anyone else?

1 comment:

Zibilee said...

I find books about animals that focus on their behavior and lives a lot more fascinating than conservation and politics regarding them as well, so I am not sure if this book would be for me, but it is neat that the author is so involved in the things that he loves!