Conservationist Tony Fitzjohn's story of the 18 years he spent working with wildlife icon George Adamson and his struggle to rescue and rehabilitate Mkomazi, a 1 500 square mile wasteland in Tanzania, comes at a time when South Africa's conservationists are facing one of their biggest challenges, namely, the poaching of hundreds of rhino. For the many who are depressed at the prospect of never beating human greed and cruelty, this book is a wonderful example of how tackling the odds one step at a time can deliver incredible results.
If you are concerned about the health of our planet then turn your attention to what lies under your feet. In the soil below are creatures that are responsible for producing the food we eat. Earthworms have been described by Darwin as the most important species on our planet and by Aristotle as 'the intestines of the earth'.
The first coffee-table book ' one that is a pleasure both to read and to look at ' on the history, beauty and conservation of South Africa's southernmost territories, Marion Island and Prince Edward Island, has been compiled by experienced researchers who have spent decades studying sub-Antarctic islands.
In one of the continent's largest collaborative conservation projects to date, South Africa has become the first of the world's mega-diverse countries to fully assess the status of its entire flora ' a staggering 20 456 species. The assessment has been published in a book entitled the Red List of South African Plants. It was appropriately launched by SANBI in Cape Town on Earth Day ' 22 April 2010.
"Scorched" is a vivid journey through southern Africa's mesmerising landscapes as climate change sets in. It wanders through the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands to capture the last faltering calls of a rain frog that was named after the hobbit Bilbo Baggins. The author pauses for thought following an elephant stampede to consider how savannahs might shift in an altered climate. She trails the wading birds of the West Coast into the high Arctic tundra for their annual breeding season before returning to a Cape which is crisping over as drought continues to grip the province. Another world exists somewhere beyond the global politicking of super powers and petrostates. This is the place where a solitary bee continues to pollinate the pale, demure flower of an orchid near Darling, or where the limey coral skeleton hosts its colourful algae on a Sodwana reef.
The science is indisputable ' climate change is a reality. Our lives will change irreversibly as we begin to adapt to these changes and as government, business and individuals begin to dramatically cut emissions to avoid catastrophic climate shifts. While these changes might create uncertainty and some anxiety, they herald a tremendously exciting era of transition, where our generation gets to redesign how we do everything.
I recently came across a story about a woman who lived for 2 years in a giant redwood tree in a forest on the west coast of the USA. It forms part of a collection of first-person stories of courage in a book titled 'Women of Spirit' (New World Library, 2001). Julia Hill's 2-year sojourn in the tree began as part of an environmental sit-in to stop loggers felling trees in an ancient forest. Most activists did a week stint at a time, either staying high up in a makeshift tree-house, or chained to the base of the tree, in both cases hindering the logging company from cutting down trees that were 1000 years old. Julia's 2-year stay started out as an act to get media attention to save the forest ' but became something far deeper for herself. I was captivated by this inner journey...
My name is Gaia. I have a kiss as gentle as butterfly eyelashes and a bite as deep as the jaws of a lioness in the soft neck of a young impala. When you feel your feet each time they touch the earth, and you walk across plains and mountains until sweat pours down your limbs, making small rivers run through the dust on your body, and your eye takes in the millions of singing blades of grass, and your fingers stroke them gently, changing the way that the light paints each soft blade, then you are tracing the surface of my body, touching lightly the patterns of my hair.'
So starts the foreword by Sally Andrew in her book The Fire Dogs of Climate Change ' An Inspirational Call to Action.
In the fall of 2004, two young environmentalists, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, triggered a firestorm of controversy with their essay, 'The Death of Environmentalism.' In it they argued that the politics that dealt with acid rain and smog can't deal with global warming. Society has changed, and our politics have not kept up. Environmentalism must die, they concluded, so that something new can be born.