Wild Life documents a nuanced understanding of the wild versus captive divide in species conservation. It also documents the emerging understanding that all forms of wild nature – both "in situ" (on-site) and "ex situ" (in captivity) – may need to be managed in perpetuity. Providing a unique window into the high-stakes world of nature conservation, Irus Braverman describes the heroic efforts by conservationists to save wild life. Yet in the shadows of such dedication and persistence in saving the life of species, Wild Life also finds sacrifice and death. Such life and death stories outline the modern struggle to define what conservation should look like at a time when the long-established definitions of nature have collapsed.
Wild Life begins with the plight of a tiny endangered snail, and ends with the rehabilitation of an entire island. Interwoven between its pages are stories about golden lion tamarins in Brazil, black-footed ferrets in the American Plains, Sumatran rhinos in Indonesia, Tasmanian devils in Australia, and many more creatures both human and nonhuman. Braverman draws on interviews with more than one hundred and twenty conservation biologists, zoologists, zoo professionals, government officials, and wildlife managers to explore the various perspectives on "in situ" and "ex situ" conservation and the blurring of the lines between them.
"Braverman delivers a beautifully argued analysis of conservation efforts over the last three decades. In this masterful book, nothing less than the essence of what we mean by 'nature' is at stake. Wild Life makes the voices of conservationists heard while providing a sharp diagnosis of the ethical dilemmas and paradoxes of their efforts to save endangered species. A must-read."
– Ursula K. Heise, UCLA
"Wild Life is a wonderfully lucid, textured exploration of the many meanings of 'conservation' today. It is required reading for anyone interested in what 'nature' and 'wilderness' mean in the context of the sixth extinction event in the history of the planet. Braverman makes a crucial contribution to the growing scholarship that pushes biopolitical thought beyond Homo sapiens."
– Cary Wolfe, Rice University, author of Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame
"Wild Life is a journey through the changing conceptual geography of species conservation. Drawing on a cast of over one hundred conservation practitioners, Braverman builds a unique portrait of a field at a turning point. A fascinating compendium of boundary-challenging case studies in conservation and a deeply felt ethnography, Wild Life is essential reading."
– Emma Marris, author of Rambunctious Garden
"Wild Life confronts the conceptual divide between 'natural' and 'unnatural' environments. This false dichotomy informs the often bitter politics of conservation efforts, and has enormous implications for the future impact of climate change, environmental degradation, and the steady depletion of biodiversity on a global scale. An extraordinarily provocative book."
– Eve Darian-Smith, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Wild Life is a must-read, especially for young people growing up in a world where all of nature is managed and the divides between in situ and ex situ have disappeared. Braverman interviews a wide array of conservationists and tells real life stories of species on the brink of extinction, making a unique contribution to conservation and to how we think about nature."
– Alexander J. Travis, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University
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Irus Braverman is Professor of Law and Adjunct Professor of Geography at the University of Buffalo, SUNY. She is the author of Planted Flags: Trees, Land, and Law in Israel/Palestine (2009), Zooland: The Institution of Captivity (2012), and coeditor of The Expanding Spaces of Law: A Timely Legal Geography (2014).