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Eating Apes is an eloquent book about a disturbing secret: the looming extinction of humanity's closest relatives, the African great apes – chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas. Dale Peterson's impassioned exposé details how, with the unprecedented opening of African forests by European and Asian logging companies, the traditional consumption of wild animal meat in Central Africa has suddenly exploded in scope and impact, moving from what was recently a subsistence activity to an enormous and completely unsustainable commercial enterprise. Although the three African great apes account for only about one percent of the commercial bush meat trade, today's rate of slaughter could bring about their extinction in the next few decades. Supported by compelling color photographs by award-winning photographer Karl Ammann, Eating Apes documents the when, where, how, and why of this rapidly accelerating disaster.
Eating Apes persuasively argues that the American conservation media have failed to report the ongoing collapse of the ape population. In bringing the facts of this crisis and these impending extinctions into a single, accessible book, Peterson takes us one step closer to averting one of the most disturbing threats to our closest relatives.
Dale Peterson is the author of Storyville, USA (1999), Chimpanzee Travels: On and Off the Road in Africa (1995), and The Deluge and the Ark: A Journey into Primate Worlds (1989). He is the editor of Beyond Innocence: Jane Goodall's Later Life in Letters (2001) and Africa in My Blood: Jane Goodall's Early Life in Letters (2000). He is the coauthor of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (1996) and Visions of Caliban: On Chimpanzees and People (1993).
Karl Ammann is an award-winning photographer who has photographed wildlife throughout Africa and Southeast Asia.
"Eating Apes is a serious study. As unpleasant as it is, this is a story that must be told, and more important, a story that must be known."
– The Times
"Opens onto a broader indictment of institutional 'feel-good conservation,' which can bear any extinction save that of its donor base. But Peterson doesn't stop at despair; he outlines reasonable measures governments and individuals can take, arguing that since apes constitute just 1 percent of Africa's fast-diminishing meat larder, they, at least, can be saved. All you need is the will, the money, and the unvarnished truth. One out of three is a start."
– Eric Scigliano, Seattle Weekly
"A passionate, enthralling book."
– Maggie McDonald, New Scientist
"Peterson is never shrill, and rarely does his tone become emotional; he does not overwhelm readers with evidence, yet his evidence is extensive. Ammann's chilling photographs [...] contribute vastly to this equally distressing and thought-provoking survey."
– Publishers Weekly
"Here the power of the pen is exponentially amplified by the power of the picture."
– Outdoor Photographer
"Will shock even readers who felt they were will-informed on the plight of many wild animals." "An interesting book, strange, shocking, unsettling and ambivalent."
– Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
"A fascinating book [...] Eating Apes educates us on an important topic neglected by the American conservation media and offers practical advice on what we can do to help stop it."
– Lisa Gallo, Animal Guardian
"Peterson is a remarkably graceful writer, considering his inherentlygruesome topic, and readers should be thankful, for the only real way to grasp the enormity of the problem is to read this elegant book in its entirety."
– Clay Evans, Boulder, Daily Camera
"Buy the book, read it, weep." "Peterson is a remarkably graceful writer, considering his gruesome topic, and readers should be thankful."
– Clay Evans, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"Eating Apes is informative, clear, and precise on the nature and origins of the crisis [...] and if you never read a word of it, then at least stop to look at Karl Ammann's photographs in the middle to see why this crisis should no longer be ignored."
– International Herald Tribune
"Peterson deconstructs the complexity of the Central and West African bushmeat trade and its role in the destruction of the great apes. Eating Apes is by far his best work to date: It has breadth and depth; the writing is crisp, clear and engaging."
– The Globe And Mail
"The issues [in Eating Apes] are not only more complex; they are also both fascinating and [...] deeply disquieting. It is a tribute to this book, and no doubt a long-overdue reward to the man who inspired it, that it explains them so well."
– BBC Wildlife Magazine
"An important new book."
– Monkey Tales
"Peterson provides a personal view of the bushmeat trade that is illuminating and eminently readable [...] It is an absorbing mixture of biography, biology, anthropology, politics, economics and ethics. It is also thoroughly researched (extensive notes are provided for each chapter). Fittingly, it is illustrated by a selection of Ammann's most famous photographs."
"This book, with its critical assessment of the wildlife trade, comes not a moment too soon and carries an important message."
– The Economist
"Dale Peterson's ugly, important new book is [...] an examination of the slaughter, for food, or humanity's four closest primate relatives [...] [Peterson] is an earnest advocate and careful researcher."
– David Quammen, New York Times Book Review
"A beautifully written book about an ongoing tragedy of global significance. Dale Peterson's account sweeps across broad issues of conservation and animal welfare that are linked to human welfare and should be the concern of everyone everywhere."
– Edward O. Wilson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning On Human Nature
"I applaud Dale Peterson for taking on this challenging subject with courage and honesty. In identifying development, in the form of logging, as the primary threat to biodiversity in Africa, this book gets it right, and I recommend it most highly to anyone who wishes to be let in on the secrets of Africa's biggest conservation crisis."
– Marcellin Agnagna, former Director of Wildlife and National Parks for the Republic of Congo
"The African Great Apes, our closest living relatives, are in imminent danger of extinction. Eating Apes, in beautiful prose, exposes the enormity and complexity of this conservation crisis. It took great courage to gather and present this information. You must read this book."
– Jane Goodall
"It is with joy that I welcome this beautifully written and persuasive book that I pray should be read not only in America and Europe but also in Africa. We are facing an environmental crisis because of those few political and corporate opportunists who take advantage of weak political institutions lacking legitimacy for the indigenous peoples of Central and West Africa."
– Ajume H. Wingo, Professor of Political Philosophy, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Research Fellow of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute, Harvard University
"What is happening to our nearest relatives, the African great apes, in their last remaining strongholds, is appalling, yet most of us know nothing about it. We should all thank Dale Peterson and Karl Ammann for this powerful book, which should end that ignorance. Everyone should read it, and then insist that their governments act before it is too late."
– Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation and Ethics
"In Eating Apes, Dale Peterson becomes the Hercule Poirot of the tropics. When he heard that in the equatorial forests apes have become meat for loggers, Peterson set off to part the curtain on a world of jungle tragedy where cultures collide, where innocence is eroded by money and power, and where conservation all too often collapses into politics. What he found is shocking, but his detective work means that ignorance is no longer an excuse for the world's inaction. Will the apes survive? Eating Apes is a brilliant, intimate guide to the challenge – and a launching-pad for the rescue mission."
– Richard Wrangham, author of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence
"Peterson and Amman's book is a bold and brave j'accuse of the logging and conservation organizations who are spearheading this latest attack. You must read this book. And then you must follow the advice of Peterson and Amman as to what you can do to help stop it."
– Roger Fouts, author of Next of Kin