At the hand of man: peril and hope for Africa's wildlife

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1993 - Business & Economics - 322 pages
In a book often shocking, always passionate and inevitably controversial, Raymond Bonner brings desperately needed illumination to one of the most important and emotional issues of our time: the threat to Africa's wildlife, and especially to the elephant. In cutting through prevailing misinformation to documented truth, he makes abundantly clear that unless we address the needs of Africans in their poverty and despair - instead of attempting to impose culturally biased Western solutions - the people will out of necessity destroy the wildlife, no matter how much Westerners protest. For Westerners, elephants are the stuff of exotic safaris and television nature shows. But it is the Africans whose land has been taken to create the parks, whose children are killed and whose subsistence farms are destroyed by elephants run amok, whose ecosystems are ruined by oversized elephant herds in countries like Kenya that can't support them (something we've heard little about). Bonner reveals and documents for the first time the ways in which some wildlife organizations suppress facts and ignore opinions of forward-thinking conservationists - opinions that might get in the way of good public relations. Examining these organizations as no one has done before, he has obtained internal documents that contain cautionary revelations: in one wildlife group, for example, a scientific consensus to oppose an ivory ban fell victim to expediency - the ban was supported with a campaign that played to the emotions for fear that otherwise fund-raising would suffer. Bonner finds hope in Africans who are practicing "sustainable utilization", whereby they profit from the animals and therefore want to protect them. InZimbabwe, for instance, impala herds have been culled and the meat given to farmers and their families. However, imposed solutions from Westerners, whose record of preserving their own wildlife has been atrocious and whose knowledge of Africa is mostly inaccurate or nonexistent, threaten to scuttle whatever modest success has been achieved. Not saving the wildlife is too horrible to contemplate, but saving it will require us to accept harsh realities and abandon romantic notions. That is the hope for Africans, both man and beast, and that is the courageous purpose of this book.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nandadevi - LibraryThing

Bonner sums up the entire history of efforts to preserve Africa's wildlife and wildlife habitat from the beginning of European colonization down to the 1990's. He comes to the subject as a journalist ... Read full review

AT THE HAND OF MAN: Peril and Hope for Africa's Wildlife

User Review  - Kirkus

In a book that's bound to be controversial, New Yorker staff writer Bonner (Weakness and Deceit, 1984) charges Western animal- rights activists with practicing ``eco-colonialism,'' which he deems as ... Read full review



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