316 pages, illustrations
Since 1984, Eric Dinerstein has led the team directly responsible for the recovery of the greater one-horned rhinoceros in the Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal, where the population had once declined to as few as 100 rhinos. The Return of the Unicorns is an account of what it takes to save endangered large mammals. Dinerstein outlines the multifaceted recovery program – structured around targeted fieldwork and scientific research, effective protective measures, habitat planning and management, public-awareness campaigns, economic incentives to promote local guardianship, and bold, uncompromising leadership – that brought these extraordinary animals back from the brink of extinction. In an age when scientists must also become politicians, educators, fund-raisers, and activists in order to safeguard the subjects they study, Dinerstein's inspiring story offers a successful model for large-mammal conservation applicable throughout Asia and across the globe.
"Dinerstein provides a glimmer of hope [...] with his success story of the conservation of the Indian or greater one-horned rhinoceros [...] [He] discusses the implications of this success story for conservation efforts elsewhere, and clearly rejects attempts to capture rare animals and maintain their populations by captive breeding."
– Donald R. Prothero, Quarterly Review of Biology
"This book offers much to anyone interested in practical, how-to conservation, far-away landscapes, large and exotic-sounding mammals, biodiversity, planning,and tropical ecology [...] A beautifully candid account [...] this is the book that conservation pragmatists and cynics should read to discover why optimism about the conservation of large mammals in human-dominated landscapes is not misplaced."
– Joel Berger, Conservation Biology
"an excellent overview of many aspects of the biology and conservation of greater one-horned rhinos in Nepal."
– Samuel Zschokke, Basic and Applied Ecology
"A landmark contribution on the ecology and conservation of large mammals."
– Mark S. Boyce, Ecology
"Eric Dinerstein has dedicated himself to the rhinos of Chitwan; he is the best friend they have ever had [...] This elegant case history of Chitwan shows that one individual can have a major conservation impact if he or she makes a tenacious commitment. Results such as these provide a 'kernel of hope,' to quote the author [...] The rhinos of Chitwan are unaware of their precarious existence. Their fate depends wholly on us, on our commitment to protect them forever."
– from the foreword by George B. Schaller, Wildlife Conservation Society
"At last, something to cheer about! Combining passion with scientific rigor, Eric Dinerstein tells the story of the remarkable recovery of Nepal's beleaguered rhinos. It's an engaging account of hope and hard work overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds."
– David S. Wilcove, professor of ecology, evolutionary biology, and public affairs, Princeton University
"Eric Dinerstein is a prominent figure among the new breed of highly skilled biologists who are leading the world's major conservation organizations along a path of ambitious, science-based conservation. With this book Dinerstein reveals his extraordinary knowledge and love of the greater one-horned rhinoceros and other imperiled mammals of Asia. In telling their story, Dinerstein makes a compelling case that we can and must make room in our world for megafauna by rewilding large landscapes."
– Reed F. Noss, Davis-Shine Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Central Florida
Foreword by George B. Schaller
Part I: Vanishing Mammals, Vanishing Landscapes
1. Vanishing Mammals: The Rise and Fall of the Rhinoceroses
2. Culture, Conservation, and the Demand for Rhinoceros Horn
3. Vanishing Landscapes: The Flood Plain Ecosystem of Chitwan
Part II: Biology of an Endangered Megaherbivore
4. Size and Sexual Dimorphism in Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros
5. The Biology of an Extinction-Prone Species: Facing Demographic, Genetic, and Environmental Threats
6. Life on the Flood Plain: Spacing and Ranging Behavior, Feeding Ecology, and Activity Patterns
7. Male Dominance, Reproductive Success, and the "Incisor Size Hypothesis"
8. Endangered Phenomena: Rhinoceros as Landscape Architects
Part III: The Recovery of Endangered Large Mammal Populations and their Habitats in Asia
9. Does Privately-Owned Ecotourism Support Conservation of Charismatic Megafauna?
10. Making Room for Megafauna: Promoting Local Guardianship of Endangered Species and Landscape-scale Conservation
11. The Recovery of Rhinoceros and Other Asian Megafauna Conclusion
Appendix A: Methods
Appendix B: Measurements and other Physical Features of greater one-horned rhinoceros captured in Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal
Appendix C: Demographic and Genetic Data
Appendix D: Profile of Rhinoceros Behavior
Appendix E: Profile of Rhinoceros Behavior
Appendix F: Reproductive Histories of Adult female Rhinoceros
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Eric Dinerstein is chief scientist and vice president for science at the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C. In addition to being active in large-mammal conservation in Asia for twenty-six years, he is the co-author of the Global 200 Ecoregions, an effort to establish global priorities for biodiversity conservation.