Inspired by his childhood obsession with extinct species, Blencowe takes us around the globe – from the forests of New Zealand to the ferries of Finland, from the urban sprawl of San Francisco to an inflatable crocodile on Brighton's Widewater Lagoon. Spanning five centuries, from the last sighting of New Zealand's Upland Moa to the 2012 death of the Pinta Island Giant Tortoise, Lonesome George, his memoir is peppered with the accounts of the hunters and naturalists of the past as well as revealing conversations with the custodians of these totemic animals today.
Featuring striking artworks that resurrect these forgotten creatures, each chapter focuses on a different animal, revealing insights into their unique characteristics and habitats; the history of their discovery and just how and when they came to be lost to us.
Blencowe inspects the only known remains of a Huia egg at Te Papa, New Zealand; views hundreds of specimens of deceased Galapagos tortoises and Xerces Blue butterflies in the California Academy of Sciences; and pays his respects to the only soft tissue remains of the Dodo in the world. Warm, wry and thought-provoking, Gone shows that while each extinction story is different, all can inform how we live in the future. Discover and learn from the stories of the:
- Great Auk. A majestic flightless seabird of the North Atlantic and the 'original penguin'.
- Spectacled Cormorant. The 'ludicrous bird' from the remote islands of the Bering Sea.
- Steller's Sea Cow. An incredible ten tonne dugong with skin as furrowed as oak bark.
- Upland Moa. The improbable birds and the one-time rulers of New Zealand.
- Huia. The unique bird with two beaks and twelve precious tail feathers.
- South Island Kokako. The 'orange-wattled crow', New Zealand's elusive Grey Ghost.
- Xerces Blue. The gossamer-winged butterfly of the San Francisco sand dunes.
- Pinta Island Tortoise. The slow-moving, long-lived giant of the Galápagos Islands.
- Dodo. The superstar of extinction.
- Schomburgk's Deer. A mysterious deer from the wide floodplains of central Thailand.
- Ivell's Sea Anemone. A see-through sea creature known only from southern England.
A modern must-read for anyone interested in protecting our earth and its incredible wildlife, Gone is an evocative call to conserve what we have before it is lost forever.
Michael Blencowe is a naturalist and writer currently living in South East England where he works for a number of conservation organizations. He has always been drawn to the mystery and beauty of wildlife and spends time searching for bears, nightjars, scorpions and moths all over the world.
– One of the top ten books of the 2021: British Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology
"I really enjoyed Gone – an engaging and entertaining sprint through what we've lost and what remains."
– Stephen Rutt author of The Seafarers, shortlisted for British Birds' Best Bird Book of 2020
"Really, really well written."
– Chris Packham
"I have enjoyed reading this book enormously. Sadly, these fairy-like tales are true! This accessibly written book should be read by everyone as we need to understand why past species became extinct to help save the next cohort of at-risk species and Blencowe's narrative bring this to life in a way I have never seen done before."
– Sarah L. Taylor, The Niche 53(1), spring 2022