212 pages, 190 colour photos, 3 maps
Our ruthless exploitation of the natural world has already driven many wild animals to the brink of extinction. Among the most threatened are many migratory species, whether avian, terrestrial or marine. Because in most cases these species cross national boundaries, the need for international conservation efforts is particularly great. Albatrosses and petrels, migratory water-birds and raptors, whales, dolphins and other marine ammals; antelopes and forest elephants and even gorillas - these are just some of the key species that are the subject of this book.
"Hard facts and stunning imagery are not always easy bedfellows, but here the marriage works seamlessly. If you are looking for a joyous photographic celebration of the world's migratory animals – and also want an up-to-date appraisal of the threats they face – then look no further than this beautiful, large-format volume. In his introduction, co-author Stanley Johnson describes cruising over Kenya's Masai Mara in a hot-air balloon as more than two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles trek towards Tanzania. Few of us will be lucky enough to share such an experience, but we would all feel bereaved if this wonderful wildlife extravaganza was lost.
As many as 10,000 species are known to migrate across national borders, and the conservationists working to protect them must confront all kinds of practical problems. That's where the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), whose data provides the backbone of this book, comes in. Johnson and Vagg focus on the most spectacular of these migrants, and this makes for incredible imagery. In one picture the raw power of an orca leaps off the page as it propels itself like a tornado through a shower of spume towards the lucky photographer. The text provides very brief status reviews for each featured migrant and is a goldmine of fascinating facts. Did you know that polar bears have been seen swimming upto 300 km from land, or that a male tigers territoy may cover 100 km2? I did iind one or two errors (including a photo of barnacle geese facing text about brent geese}, but these are relatively minor quibbles. The real strength of this book is that the beauty of the imagery in its pages reinforces why these animals need to be conserved.
Verdict: 4/5 stars"
- Tim Harris, Natural history book editor, BBC Wildlife magazine, September 2010
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