Against Extinction: The Story of Conservation
paper, 311 p., $27.5
British educator William Adams explores the subject of wildlife conservation in today’s society by tracing the history of man’s changing relationship with nature in the 20th century. He commences the chronicle with a report of the discovery of the mountain gorilla in 1902 and describes how, over time, man’s role changed from that of its hunter to conservationist of its species.
The author observes that somewhat paradoxically, the concept of saving the mountain gorilla and other threatened species from extinction began as the vision of an “elite group of big game hunters.” First sought as a trophy, then as an oddity to be displayed before urban industrialized society in natural history museums and zoos, the mountain gorilla turned the thoughts of man from predator to caregiver of a species closely related to Homo sapiens.
Adams discusses in depth the international conservation movement, focusing on what took place in Western industrialized countries that spurred the current theories on dealing with the biosphere, and the challenges that conservationists continue to face in conflicts with the development needs of the poor in a global economy. Despite a maze of organization acronyms that tend to confuse the reader, the author has done a masterful job in his tale of the evolution of wildlife conservation policy.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden
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