Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction

Michelle Nijhuis. Norton, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-324-00168-3
Efforts to prevent the loss of wildlife are “likely as old as the images of steppe bison painted on cave walls,” writes journalist Nijhuis (The Science Writer’s Essay Handbook) in this thorough history of wildlife conservation movements. She begins with the bison, a species nearly driven to extinction by humans in the late 1800s, and details how efforts to protect them led to the early conservation movement in America. From there, Nijhuis describes the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (which passed in 1918 and put an end to the plume trade, for which millions of birds were killed for their feathers) and outlines the work of environmentalist Aldo Leopold, who, during the Depression and Dust Bowl, advocated for an “ecological concept of habitat.” Until then, Nijhuis observes, conservation “meant protecting animals from bullets, not protecting shrubbery and wetlands.” As she lays out the origins of environmental groups including the World Wildlife Fund and Nature Conservancy, Nijhuis warns that organizations and governments are not doing enough to stave off mass extinction. To that end, she argues conservationists must “revive humans’ sense of responsibility towards all species.” Nijhuis’s comprehensive survey is sure to delight nature enthusiasts and those concerned with disappearing species. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 11/30/2020
Release date: 03/09/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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