WE ALONE: How Humans Have Conquered the Planet

Book number: 94388 Product format: Hardback Author: DAVID WESTERN

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Bibliophile price £6.50
Published price £25

Leading conservationist David Western has an encouraging message for humanity: life has adapted time and time again to its environment and we can do the same. Our ecological emancipation from nature enabled us to expand our horizons from conserving water and food to saving whales, elephants and our cultural heritage. Growing up in Tanzania he believed that there must be a reason why the best wildlife areas were found in the Maasai heartlands, and he started his doctoral research by studying the game reserve at Amboseli where livestock and wildlife migrated freely with the seasons. Overgrazing was being blamed for migration, but the Maasai herders taught David Western the cues they used to follow the livestock to new pastures. He discovered that migratory animals mature earlier and are less susceptible to disease than resident herds, testing his theories by herding his own cows, Sotwa and Matingab. In 1977 Amboseli became a national park and the remainder of the ecosystem would now be owned collectively by the Maasai, in an effort to reduce the tendency for African national parks to make enemies because of the destruction of the Commons, a system with prehistoric origins that has been transformed repeatedly by different forms of government. The elders of a clan now monitor grazing regulations. Visiting America's Malpai ranches in the 1990s the author was drawn by the parallels with the Amboseli Maasai and arranged exchange visits to benefit from each other's conservation expertise. In 2002 six Malpai visited Kenya with a return visit in 2004. The Maasai showed the cowboys how to throw a spear using a yucca stem and the ranchers taught the Maasai to do a barn dance, followed by a Maasai rain dance. Western's wife Shirley Strum, an expert on savannah baboons, researched how a new male inveigles his way into a group by being kind to the females and protecting their young rather than using aggression. Once again co-operation rather than coercion is the key to survival in every ecosystem. 310pp, photos.

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ISBN 9780300251166

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