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The Myth of Wild Africa: Conservation Without Illusion

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ISBN-13: 978-0520206717
ISBN-10: 0520206711
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The Myth of Wild Africa: Conservation Without Illusion + Green Land, Brown Land, Black Land: An Environmental History of Africa, 1800-1990 + Environment and History: The taming of nature in the USA and South Africa (Historical Connections series)
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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

From two members of the World Wildlife fund: an important book on conservation in the continent where Tanzania, home to the famous Serengeti Park, is now ranked as the third poorest nation in the world. In a well-argued and fully documented brief, the authors set out to destroy a prevailing myth among Western conservationists and their supporters that ``Africa and wildlife do not belong together''--a myth that thrives despite the fact that ``Africans have more than demonstrated their genuine interest in and understanding of the importance of conservation--aesthetically, practically, culturally.'' They note that, since independence, African governments have set aside over 48 million hectares of land for animals; that these governments spend over $115 million a year managing this land; and that--in contrast to the US, which has set aside only 8% of its land--Tanzania has relinquished 13% of its territory for game parks. African countries are under stress as populations explode and economies falter, yet many conservationists, including ``celebrity scientists'' like Dian Fossey, have promulgated the idea that Africans are intruders into what was once a pristine wilderness. These scientists, the authors contend, push the cause of ``charismatic megafauna''--elephants, rhinos, gorillas--to gain money for programs that either ignore or seriously damage the lives of local peoples. Adams and McShane say that animals and people can coexist--in fact that such coexistence is the African tradition--and, to back their argument, they cite historical examples as well as contemporary projects such as Zimbabwe's CAMPFIRE and Zambia's ADMADE, which emphasize local involvement as well as recognizing specific community needs. ``Africans do care about wild life,'' the authors conclude. ``They have been labeled as the problem; they are in fact part of the solution.'' The authors' eloquent plea that ``conservation cannot ignore the needs of human beings'' may be provocative, but it is long overdue. A must read, then, for conservationists, Africanists, and animal lovers. (Photographs; maps.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A useful introduction to the complex issues that must be confronted by Africans and their concerned friends from abroad. The book's central message that Africans are the solution and not the problem (will come as no surprise to conservationists, but it is a point well worth emphasizing nonetheless." -- Robert S. O. Harding, New York Times Book Review

"Should be essential reading for anyone with an interest in the future of the African continent, its wildlife and its people." -- David Tomlinson, New Scientist

"The 'Myth of Wild Africa' . . . is the false notion that Africa was ever a continent untouched by the hand of man, and that its wildlife can be conserved without winning the support of its people. . . . It is a brave attempt to take sentimentality out of conservation." -- The Economist

The authors make the complexity of the continent, its ecosystems and its political problems abundantly clear. -- The New York Times Book Review, Robert S. O. Harding

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (January 6, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520206711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520206717
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Adams has spent more than two decades writing about the science and practice of conservation. A science writer and conservation biologist, he often writes as an insider with an outsider's perspective. He is the author most recently, with Mark Tercek, of "Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive By Investing in Nature" published by Basic Books in 2013. He is also the author of "The Future of the Wild: Radical Conservation for a Crowded World" published by Beacon Press in 2004, about which Library Journal wrote (in a starred review): "Visionary, optimistic, doable, and essential, Adam's approach is a pioneering 'guidebook to nature."

Jonathan was co-editor of "Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States", published by Oxford University Press in 2000 and he is the co-author, with Thomas McShane, of "The Myth of Wild Africa: Conservation Without Illusion." W. W. Norton published Myth of Wild Africa in 1992, and the paperback edition published by University of California Press continues to sell after more than a decade in print. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Robert S. O. Harding said about the book, "The authors make the complexity of the continent, its ecosystems and its political problems abundantly clear."

Jonathan received an MS in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Maryland, an MA in Writing About Science from Johns Hopkins University, and a BA from Columbia University.

Visit him online at www.pangolinwords.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Shewmake on August 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was eye-opening. I've been reading about sub-Saharan Africa for the past two months and this is the best book of analysis I've read so far. It criticizes some of the other books I've read such as Cry of the Kalahari and Gorillas in the Mist for being short-sighted in their conservation dreams.
This book brings up the need to incorporate people into conservation and the failure of vast stretches of land dedicated to being a national park in countries where people aren't well fed.
By numerous critiques of programs considered to be at the forefront of convervation and analyses of policy in countries that include Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Naimbia, Rwanda, Gabon, Malawi, Zimbabwae, Zambia and Uganda Adams and McShane eloquently show that one policy of conservation doesn't work everywhere.
If are interested in wildlife conservation this book is a must. If you are persuaded by National Geographic movies this is a must. If you want to gain insight into the types of creative policies needed for wildlife areas in Africa and perhaps other tropical countries, this book is a must.
One of the best I've read all summer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great book for anyone interested in conservation in Africa. This is not, however, a book that promotes saving wildlife at all costs but instead looks at the issues surrounding conservation and the difficult issues that are involved in it. The book challenges the western-driven modes of conservation that have been in place for the past century. A must for anyone going on safari or anyone that works in the field of conservation.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 2003
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This is a balanced perspective and an easy read. It isn't blindly save all animals nor allow shooting of all species. It speaks to Africa for Africans as a theme.
Not some heady tome, but a thoughtful approach to how to conserve wildlife in Africa.
I read before going to Botswana, my 4th trip to Africa, and found it stimulating and very useful. Particularly timely given the new white colonialism one sees in Africa trying to run wildlife camps, foster religious growth, etc.
A must read before your next safari.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JMS on December 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
what the explorers did over past centuries, once pristine Africa is now suffering the evils of urbanization introduced by modern world. The problem really is governanace. Ofcourse the wild animals are the worst hit.
This is one of the best books that de-mystifies the reality....
my opinion we should have left africa the way it was .... happy and natural....
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By Willem van Aalst on March 25, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
just a great read
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