Two new books arrived at my door on the same day this week, and while my desk was over-laden with other stuff, I immediately went to them and I'm thrilled I did. I can't possibly cover all of the material that is contained in these essential reads, so here's a teaser that should whet your appetite for more. I'm sure you won't be sorry you read these books, shared them widely, and then reread and thought about them some more. Taken together, they really can help save Earth.
"Blood of the Tiger: A Story of Conspiracy, Greed, and the Battle to Save a Magnificent Species," by conservationist and tireless international wildlife investigator J. A. Mills, is a landmark book (the Kindle edition can be seen here. Ms. Mills, who has worked for TRAFFIC, the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, and Save the Tiger Fund, is now a consultant to the MacArthur Foundation. Clearly well-credentialed, she is a very brave woman for openly taking on the people who wantonly slaughter these icons in the wild, and also breed them to make thoroughly unnecessary items such as tiger-bone wine, tiger skin decor, and food, all in the name of greed and money, with no concern at all for the animals' well being nor for the fact that they are going extinct. Tigers are essentially livestock who are treated like unfeeling objects and commodities, not as the sentient beings who they truly are.
The endorsements for Ms. Mills' book, from wildlife biologists, conservationists, and others, aptly cover this magnificent and bold work. They include:
"Blood of the Tiger is a heart-pounding read that takes us along on J. A. Mills's journey through the dark and sometimes dangerous realities of wildlife conservation. Mills is detective, double agent, and guide through a mapless labyrinth of politics, cultural differences, and the economics of greed and poverty. This book is a potent antidote to the despair and helplessness many of us feel observing the race to save tigers and other endangered species-a book that infuses one with renewed passion, determination, and hop." - Amy Tan, author of "The Joy Luck Club."
"Blood of the Tiger may be the most important book you read this year. It will make your blood boil-but also make your heart sing. J. A. Mills's courageous and captivating investigation of the trade in tiger body parts reveals some sickening secrets, as well as showcasing fearless, creative heroes. Read this roller coaster of a book and take action for tigers-before it's too late."- Sy Montgomery, author of "Spell of the Tiger."
"Personal, engaging, shocking, informative. J. A. Mills exposes the dark secrets of the tiger trade and bares her soul, her passion, and her determination to bring about change. I believe there is still hope for wild tigers. Blood of the Tiger is real and raw, intelligent and compelling, and in the final analysis, a story that must not be ignored."-Will Travers, OBE, president of the Born Free Foundation.
My humble suggestion is to read this book and share it widely, and do something for tigers and the other magnificent and fascinating animals who are suffering at the hands of people who really don't give a damn about them. Blood of the Tiger is that good and that important. And, it is an easy read - though the content is not always that easy to read - that should appeal to a wide audience. It would be perfect for courses in the conservation sciences.
The other book that I consumed is called "Protecting the Wild: Parks and Wilderness, the Foundation for Conservation," edited by conservationists George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler. The table of contents can be seen here. This edited book, containing essays by numerous renowned conservationists, "offers a spirited argument for the robust protection of the natural world. In it, experts from five continents reaffirm that parks, wilderness areas, and other reserves are an indispensable-albeit insufficient-means to sustain species, subspecies, key habitats, ecological processes, and evolutionary potential. Using case studies from around the globe, they present evidence that terrestrial and marine protected areas are crucial for biodiversity and human well-being alike, vital to countering anthropogenic extinctions and climate change. A companion volume to "Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth" (the Kindle edition can be seen here,) "Protecting the Wild" provides a necessary addition to the conversation about the future of conservation in the so-called Anthropocene, one that will be useful for academics, policymakers, and conservation practitioners at all levels, from local land trusts to international NGOs." This book too would be perfect for courses in the conservation sciences.
Rewilding the wild and our hearts
Given my own interests in the notion of rewilding on different scales, I'm pleased that both of these books write about the need for humans to reconnect with nature and to become re-enchanted with the magnificent planet we call home - to rewild. We have everything to gain, and absolutely nothing to lose, by doing so.
Our own well being depends on the well being of other animals and the health and integrity of their homes in diverse ecosystems, and when "they" lose, we lose too. Both of these wonderful books make this point as clearly as it can be made, and my hope is that both will wind up on the bookshelves of everyone who cares about our magnificent planet and its fascinating residents.