The Hunt for the Golden Mole : All Creatures Great & Small and Why They Matter
Overview - Taking as its narrative engine the hunt for an animal that is legendarily rare, Richard Girling writes an engaging and highly informative history of humankind's interest in hunting and collecting - what prompts us to do this? what good might come of our need to catalog all the living things of the natural world? Read more...
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More About The Hunt for the Golden Mole by Richard Girling
Taking as its narrative engine the hunt for an animal that is legendarily rare, Richard Girling writes an engaging and highly informative history of humankind's interest in hunting and collecting - what prompts us to do this? what good might come of our need to catalog all the living things of the natural world?
Girling, named Environmental Journalist of the Years 2008 and 2009, has here chronicled - through the hunt for the Somali golden mole - the development of the conservation movement, the importance of diversity in the animal kingdom, including humankind within this realm, as well as a hard look at extinction.
The Somali mole of the title, first descibed in print in a text book published in 1964, had as sole evidence of its existence only the fragment of a jaw bone found in an owl pellet, a specimen that seemed to have vanished as Girling began his exploration. Intrigued by the elusiveness of this creature and what the hunt for the facts of its existence might tell us about extinction, he was drawn to the dusty vaults of museums of natural history where the most rare artifacts are stored and catalogued, as he found himself caught up in the need to track it down.
Part quest, part travelog, the book that results not only offers an important voice to the scientific debate about extinction and biodiversity it becomes an environmental call to arms.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
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Girling, an environmental journalist, explores the antecedents to both the current crisis of species extinction and the modern conservation movement. He crosses boundaries impressively, discussing the philosophical underpinnings of ecological preservation, the historical and sociopolitical environment in which early naturalists and big game hunters commingled, the biological basis for determining the nature of speciation, and the basic principles of systematics used to define evolutionary relationships among groups of organisms. Girling’s accessible presentation never oversimplifies complex issues, and the book also includes fascinating descriptions of his trips to Kenya and Mozambique to explore successful ways humans and wildlife have found ways to coexist. He is not shy about pointing out the huge problems associated with poaching, problems arising from the efforts of organized crime and terrorist networks, as well as the occasional closed-mindedness of environmental groups unwilling to think beyond doctrinaire positions. The book’s only downside is Girling’s description of his search for bones of the Somali golden mole, bones that were found only once in an owl pellet in 1964. The search, as a metaphor, is powerful, but the reality of the search is far less exciting. Nonetheless, Girling has produced a provocative and thoughtful text. (Nov.)