Wildlife conservation is at a critical juncture. While large, charismatic mammals may be the first animals that come to mind – the mere 3,000 wild tigers still in existence, the giraffes declared endangered for the first time just last year – it is not only these magnificent keystone species disappearing. A full third of all studied birds, reptiles, and mammals have suffered devastating population losses, and a third of all insects are now endangered, including crucial pollinators that sustain worldwide food supply. Over 15,000 animal species are now considered to be threatened with extinction.
There are, however, bright spots that provide optimism – many of them due to the efforts of a small group of scientists and activists. In Saving Endangered Species, Robert W. Shumaker brings together ten conservation heroes, seven of them winners of the Indianapolis Prize, three of them recipients of the Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador Award. With moving immediacy, each wildlife defender offers their unique perspective on the state of wildlife conservation and the future of the natural world. Bringing to life their work in the field, each contributor also explains key concepts in wildlife conservation, reveals why they are important, and discusses what kinds of work can be done to address biodiversity loss.
Contributors sharing their stories in their own words include
- George Schaller, one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation, who conducted the field work that resulted in the establishment of the world's largest wildlife preserve, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Iain Douglas-Hamilton, who is widely credited with developing the metrics and methods that stemmed the tide of elephant poaching for ivory in Africa
- Steven Amstrup, who discovered the disturbing truth that the sea ice that polar bears rely on for traveling, hunting, and raising their young was disappearing
- Russell Mittermeier, who has discovered over 20 new animal species, conducted field work in more than 30 countries around the globe, and authored 15 books on biodiversity
- Harrison Ford, Academy Award–winning actor, who has been a passionate wildlife advocate and board member of Conservation International for over 25 years
- Sigourney Weaver, three-time Academy Award nominee, whose work with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has helped save thousands of gorillas in Rwanda and Congo
This unique book aims to win new recruits, inspire biologists and conservationists already in the field, and illustrate the profession's fundamental scientific tenets through wildlife champions' own exciting narratives. Covering issues from reproduction and prey-predator relationships to population dynamics and community engagement, Saving Endangered Species also addresses such thorny topics as overhunting, retaliatory killing by farmers, development-driven habitat loss, and the illegal wildlife trade. By encompassing a broad spectrum of subjects, Saving Endangered Species ultimately gives readers a first-person look into what it takes to dedicate oneself to the crucial field of wildlife conservation.
Foreword: Reach Beyond / Harrison Ford
Introduction. Conservation Science, Biodiversity, and the Indianapolis Prize / Dr. Robert W. Shumaker
Chapter 1. Dancing with Cranes: It's Their Story and My Story / Dr. George Archibald
Chapter 2. The Natural History of a Field Biologist / Dr. George B. Schaller
Chapter 3. Among the Elephants / Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton
Chapter 4. Wild Things and Wild Places / Jane Alexander
Chapter 5. Polar Bears, Melting Ice, and Turning Conservation on Its Head / Dr. Steven C. Amstrup
Chapter 6. Deep in Time, Broad in Scope: Conservation Science Empowers Communities and Saves Species in Madagascar / Dr. Patricia Chapple Wright
Chapter 7. Challenging Boundaries: The Legacy of Dian Fossey / Sigourney Weaver
Chapter 8. Lessons from the Dodo: Saving the Endangered Wildlife of Mauritius / Dr. Carl Jones
Chapter 9. Forests and Primates Worldwide: A Lifetime of Challenges, Opportunities, and Triumphs / Dr. Russ Mittermeier
Afterword. The Steep and Rugged Pathway / Michael I. Crowther
Evolutionary biologist Robert W. Shumaker (Indianapolis, IN) is the president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo. He is the author of Orangutans and the coauthor of Animal Tool Behavior: The Use and Manufacture of Tools by Animals and Primates in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book.
- Jane Alexander
- Steven C. Amstrup
- George Archibald
- Michael I. Crowther
- Iain Douglas-Hamilton
- Harrison Ford
- Carl Jones
- Russell Mittermeier
- George B. Schaller
- Robert W. Shumaker
- Sigourney Weaver
- Patricia Chapple Wright
"Vividly illustrating what good can be accomplished by individuals in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges in nature conservation, Saving Endangered Species tells the complete story, warts and all, of the trials and tribulations conservationists face in accomplishing their impressive and inspiring results."
– Lee Durrell, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
"Highlighting the importance of conservation – and how it is different today than it was years ago – this exceptionally successful book shares the autobiographical stories of influential conservationists while covering a diverse set of species and areas of the world."
– Dana Kobilinsky, The Wildlife Society