Seeking the Sacred Raven: Politics and Extinction on a Hawaiian Island

Mark Jerome Walters, Author . Island $24.95 (293p) ISBN 978-1-55963-090-0

The 'alala, a member of the raven family, is for native Hawaiians a sacred bird, revered as a guardian spirit for the soul on its way to the afterlife. These birds, indigenous to the island of Hawaii, were once plentiful, but disease, predation and loss of habitat have brought them to the brink of extinction. Walters (A Shadow and a Song ) offers a devastating chronicle of what happens to attempts to save an endangered species when the interests of landowners, biologists, government agencies and conservation organizations clash: for the 'alala, everything ended in heartbreak in 2002, the last time one of these birds was observed in the wild. Now, Walters says, only 50 'alala remain, in captivity, and they may not survive if they are released, for in spite of all the hard work and sacrifice expended on saving them, little has been accomplished, especially regarding the conservation or renewal of their natural habitat. Walters's poignant book is a trenchant reminder of what can happen when politics and self-interest get in the way of preservation. Illus. not seen by PW . (June 29)

Reviewed on: 04/24/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 293 pages - 978-1-55963-091-7
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