Title: The Last Rhinos
Author: Lawrence Anthony
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Conservation, Non-fiction
Dates read: 16th June – 26th September 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: In some areas all you could see were the splintered stumps of once-massive jungle trees.
Lawrence Anthony has been described as ‘the Indiana Jones of conservation’. His South African game reserve is home to many animals he has saved, from a remarkable herd of elephants to a badly behaved bushbaby called George. When he learned that there was only a handful of northern white rhinos left in the wild, living in an area of the Congo controlled by the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army, he was determined to save them from extinction.
What followed was an extraordinary adventure, as Lawrence headed into the jungle to ask the rebels to help protect the rhino. He was also battling to keep his own animals alive during a terrible drought and to save the eyesight of his elephant matriarch Nana. The Last Rhinos is peopled with unforgettable characters, both human and animal, and is a sometimes funny, sometimes moving, always exciting read.
I haven’t read this book for a while. But lately, I’ve needed the inspiration and the motivation to remind me what it is about conservation that I’m passionate about. There is just something about Lawrence Anthony’s adventures and dedication that are completely awe inspiring. Unforgettable and smakes you realise that you are just a small dot in the fabric of the world. Which sounds horrible, but I kind of love… it’s nice to know that your decisions and life isn’t going to change the fate of the world, and that you are something small in a greater reality.
I would do a lot to save animals and take care of the environment… but I really don’t know that I would take on one of the most dangerous and infamous armies in the modern world – the LRA. The intensity of Lawrence’s relationships with these men and his part in their attempts at brokering peace are overwhelming, awe-inspiring and a great read late at night. After all, very few people would have the confidence and gumption to actually do such a thing to take care of another species…
The Last Rhinos is a bit slow to begin with. It discusses a lot of politics, difficulties and barriers to the conservation agenda. Money, politics and bureaucracy are always getting in the way, it doesn’t matter which aspect of life we’re dealing with. But when these barriers occur against an innocent rhino, it’s incredibly frustrating. Which comes through amazingly in this novel. We should all start finding a way to unite and stop arguing against the minutiae… otherwise we will lose all of our beautiful wildlife… the Last Rhinos just being a warning for future Armageddon.
Not only do Anthony’s words carry a potency that many other conservation tales don’t. primarily because his raw honesty and inability to hear the word no… but his little anecdotes about life on Zula Zula fill the gaps. They bring to life a reality in South Africa would otherwise be completely removed from our reality. This is a must have novel for anybody who loves nature, the environment and a damn good story.
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