Conservation Book & Netflix Club: April 2020
Are you finding yourself with a bit more time on your hands at present? Looking for ways to keep entertained and stay connected with the things you love in the outside world? We are here to help. We have been catching up on some of our conservation reading and Netflix and have reviewed a few of our favourites below.
In true book club style, we’d love to know your thoughts on after reading/watching in the comments. We will aim to do this regularly during the lockdown so please let us know your recommendations for books we should check out too!
1. The Elephant Whisperer, Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence (2009)
Ignore the misleading title: Lawrence Anthony is not your traditional Dr Dolittle or badly-behaved dog fixer, he is a seriously impressive conservationist who takes on the biggest challenges life can throw at him. And in Zululand, South Africa this can be quite a lot. For example, say poachers, storms, fires, traditional Zulu witchcraft and a herd of traumatised elephants that need saving from slaughter for starters.. Fall in love with the Thula Thula reserve and its incredible inhabitants, especially Nana the herd’s protective matriarch, in this book of African conservation adventure.
2. Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution, Caroline Fraser (2009)
Fraser brings the reader on a journey with her in “Rewilding the World”, starting with the science behind rewilding and the principles of cores, corridors and carnivores, before embarking on a tour of some of the world’s most ambitious conservation projects. From the success of community-run conservancies in Namibia to the challenges of protected area security in warn-torn Nepal, meet the conservationists, scientists, rangers and communities tackling conservation challenges on the largest scale across six continents. This is a great book for those with an interest in science and the real-life practicalities of conservation on the ground.
3. Last Chance to See, Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine (1990)
An oldie but a goodie. This book made me wonder why on Earth I had never read any of Douglas Adams’ work before. In part an ode to the wonder of some of the world’s most endangered species and in part a (hilarious) chronicle of the perils of adventure travel, “Last chance to see” delivers stories from the front lines of conservation with a healthy dose of humour and some incredibly insightful reflections on the human psyche. With species on the very brink of extinction as the subject matter it could easily have been a bit of a depressing read, yet Adams’ dry and often self-deprecating wit coupled with his imaginative metaphors makes this book both impactful and thoroughly enjoyable. Tip: Check out clips from a BBC follow up series (with Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine) on YouTube to find out what happened to the species in the book.
4. The Snow Leopard Project: And Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation, Alex Dehgan (2019)
There is conservation. There is conservation in challenging environments. And then there is conservation in post-war Afghanistan. Alex Dehgan is hardcore. Follow his journey as he and his team start from scratch to build a series of protected areas in some of the most dangerous and most remote regions of the world. Indeed in one chapter, Dehgan starts off by describing a new project as “bread-and-butter conservation” before going on to describe the armed exchanges of gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades happening as a result of the illegal timber trade.. This book challenged my (perhaps ignorant) perception of Afghanistan as an arid, barren landscape and completely enthralled me with its beautiful descriptions of the country’s rich wildlife, history and culture. The narrative jumps around a little at times but it is definitely worth sticking with it to discover how, through passion and perseverance, hope can be found even in seemingly the most unlikely of circumstances - maybe a nice reminder for the world right now!
Not feeling like reading? Check out some of our Netflix conservation faves instead:
Sir David Attenborough – need we say more?
An inspiring insight into the life of Dr Jane Goodall. This film was collated from beautiful archive footage starting from Dr Goodall’s first years in Tanzania with the chimpanzees and is accompanied by a really lovely orchestral soundtrack.
Intense, raw and powerful. It is impossible not to be moved by the commitment of those protecting the DRC’s Virunga National Park and its mountain gorillas in the face of war, threats, corruption and corporates. See virungamovie.com for how you can support their cause. Not one for younger viewers.
We hope you enjoy! Don't forget to login to comment with your thoughts and recommendations.