Jane Goodall’s ‘Hope for Animals’ focuses on heroes trying to save endangered species

Courtesy of publisher
Courtesy of publisher

Jane Goodall, world-famous primatologist and conservationist, is an obvious friend to endangered and threatened species. Images of her with the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park are as iconic as seeing the great migrations of eastern Africa and the mirrored images in the Okavango Delta. Hope for Animals and Their World, a beautifully written missive to endangered species, follows these animals on the brink of extinction, but it also focuses on the brave men and women who have dedicated their professional (and private) lives to animal survival. Goodall is as interested in the humans behind the animals as she is in the animals themselves, and that’s likely because she’s a smart conservationist, a woman who understands the necessary human element needed to protect habitats, promote biodiversity and reduce hideous examples of poaching.

The chapters in the book are broken down according to individual species. North America and Central America receive the most space with unbelievable tales about the black-footed ferret, California condor, red wolf, American crocodile, peregrine falcon, American burying beetle, whooping crane and Vancouver Island marmot, among others. Each chapter highlights the lowlights, essentially looking into why the animals’ overall numbers are so reduced. These historical snapshots can be depressing. Time and time again human encroachment took their homes away. Now some are left clinging to existence on protected land that is a small fraction of their ancestral habitats.

Throughout the book, co-written by Gail Hudson and featuring sections by Thane Maynard, Goodall offers insight into several unique challenges, including genetic diversity, captive breeding and the many intricacies of parenting in the wild. Some of the examples are vivid: Take the California condor, which probably would be extinct if not for the courageous efforts of dedicated naturalists. The thrilling stories that Goodall is able to bring to life include tales of scaling treacherous cliffs and attempting to instigate migratory patterns in birds. The technology behind each case is a marvel, and the obvious human spirit is inspirational.

Black-and-white photographs are liberally displayed throughout the text, with two stand-alone sections featuring color photos of the species in question. These represent perfect visuals for further appreciation. There may be nothing cuter than a black-footed ferret (that is until one sees a Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit), nothing more unbelievable than the bactrian camel, nothing more majestic than the well-known giant panda or nothing more elegant than the pink pigeon. There’s even a new appreciation for species that some believe to be hideous or useless — Asian or Oriental white-backed vulture and American burying beetle. Some species may be fairly new to the uninitiated — Sumatran rhino, Iberian lynx and Attwater’s prairie chicken.

Goodall’s Hope for Animals and Their World is necessary reading for Goodall enthusiasts and those who respect humans’ brothers and sisters in the animal kingdom. It’s a positive book about a negative issue, one that identifies humans as the culprit and, thankfully, as the savior. Readers can no longer claim ignorance.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

  • Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink

  • By Jane Goodall with Thane Maynard and Gail Hudson

  • Grand Central Publishing

  • 392 pages

  • Rating: ★★★★

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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