African Silences

Peter Matthiessen, Author, Becky Saletan, Editor, Jason Epstein, Editor Random House (NY) $21 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-40021-9
With this account of his two journeys to Africa, in 1978 and 1986, Matthiessen ( The Snow Leopard ) offers his readers a superb vicarious experience. He went first to West Africa--Senegal, Gambia and Ivory Coast--to find out which and how many animals survived in the national parks. The object of the later trip, on which he was joined by David Western of the New York Zoological Society, was to survey the Congo Basin--Central African Republic, Gabon, Zaire--for signs of the small forest elephant and perhaps solve the mystery of the so-called pygmy elephant (they prove to be simply juveniles of the forest species). In a single-engine plane piloted by Western, they traveled over vast areas of uncharted forest, using the rivers as landmarks. Matthiessen introduces us to wildlife biologists in remote stations, to native guides and to families of Mbuti pygmies. He describes ravaged lands and untouched forests, noting that virtually the entire rain forest of Central Africa has been sold. Wildlife is scarce. A dazzling, if dismaying report. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1991
Release date: 07/01/1991
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-679-73102-3
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-91406-2
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