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1 Burnside Nature Studies- African Wildlife

Horn of Darkness: Rhinos on the Edge

by

Horn of Darkness: Rhinos on the Edge Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The black rhino is nature's tank, feared by all animals. Even lions will break off a hunt to detour around one. And yet the black rhino is on the edge of extinction, its numbers dwindling from 100,000 at the turn of the century, to less than 2,500 today. The reason is that in places like Yemen, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, the rhino's horn is more valuable than gold, so valuable that people will risk their lives to harvest it. To deter rhino poachers, African governments have spent millions--on helicopters, paramilitary operations, fences and guard dogs, even relocation to protected areas. Finally, Namibia decided to dehorn its rhino population, in a last ditch effort to stop the slaughter. In 1991, Carol Cunningham and Joel Berger, and their eighteen-month-old daughter Sonja, went to Namibia to weigh the effects of dehorning on rhinos. In Horn of Darkness, they tell the story of three years in the Namib Desert, studying Africa's last sizable population of free-roaming black rhinos.

This is the closest most readers will come to experiencing life in the remaining wilds of Africa. Cunningham and Berger, writing alternate chapters, capture what it is like to leave the comforts of civilization, to camp for months at a time in a land filled with deadly predators, to study an animal that is reclusive, unpredictable, and highly dangerous. The authors describe staking out water holes in the dead of the night, creeping to within twenty-seven meters of rhinos to photograph them, all the while keeping a lookout for hyenas, elephants, and lions. They recount many heart-pounding escapes--one rhino forces Carol Cunningham up a tree, an unseen lion in hot pursuit of hyenas races right past a frozen Joel Berger--and capture the adrenaline rush of inching closer to a rhino that might flee--or charge--at any moment. They also give readers a clear sense of the careful, patient work involved in studying animals, the frustration of long days without finding rhinos or seeing other people, coping with heat and thirst (the Namib desert is one of the driest on Earth), with dirt and insects, driving hundreds of kilometers in a Land Rover packed to capacity, slowing amassing records on one hundred individual rhinos over the course of several years. And perhaps most important, the authors reveal that the data they collected suggests that the dehorning project might backfire--that in the four years after dehorning began, calf survival was down (the evidence suggests that hyenas might be preying on calves and the hornless mothers couldn't defend their offspring). They also describe the dark side of scientific work, from the petty jealousy of other scientists--outside researchers were often seen as ecological imperialists--to the controversy that erupted after the authors published their findings, as furious officials of the Namibian conservation program denounced their findings and through delays and other tactics effectively withheld a permit to allow the couple to continue their study.

Weaving together the historical accounts of other naturalists, a vividly detailed look at life in the wild, and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of scientific work and the dark side of the conservation movement, Horn of Darkness is destined to be a classic work on the natural world.

Book News Annotation:

Americans Cunningham and Berger recount their three years in Namibia helping save the black rhino from extinction, particularly describing a program to cut off the horns for which poachers kill so many. Writing alternating chapters they tell of camping in the desert, staking out water holes at night, creeping up on rhinos, and other adventures. Includes black-and-white photographs and a glossary without pronunciation.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

What hope remains for Africa's black rhinos? This book addresses that question by mixing local people and attitudes with biology and adventure while describing the challenges of doing ecological fieldwork in a difficult setting, while accompanied by a small child. It moves beyond typical nature studies by featuring real world components of conservaiton — the delicate mix of western science and local interests and values, political and economic influences, and personal commitment.

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. [237]-240) and index.

About the Author

Carol Cunningham and Joel Berger have worked as a team for fifteen years studying conservation and wildlife issues from Africa and Alaska to the Great Basin Desert. They both work at the University of Nevada, in Reno, and live up in the Sierras.

Table of Contents

A Black Rhino Time Line

Map

I. YEAR OF THE MOPANE FLY [1991]

1. In the Rhino's Path

2. Bumbling around in the Bush

3. Trial by Fire

4. Etosha

5. Dark Nights and Moonlight

6. Mom

7. The Unforgiving Desert

8. A Tracker Appears

9. It Depends on Your Perspective

10. Through the Eyes of a Poacher

11. "The Missus"

II. YEAR OF THE TSONGOLOLO [1992]

12. A Caprivi Crossing

13. Rhino Illusions

14. Namib Edge

15. Buried in Sand

16. Lions and Hyenas

17. The Dead and the Brave

18. Concrete Corridors

19. Of Science and Ecology

III. YEAR OF THE SCORPION [1993]

20. The Europa Hof

21. Trails of Dust

22. Of Moths and Maggots

23. The Zimbabwe Massacre

24. Missing Calves

25. The Witch Doctor's Revenge

26. The Pelvis and the Lion

27. Horn Traders

IV. YEAR OF THE HUMAN [1994]

28. Rhino Rhetoric

29. Xenophobia

Epilogue

Postscript

Acknowledgments

Glossary

Selected Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780195111132
With:
Cunningham, Carol
Author:
Berger, Joel
Author:
null, Carol
Author:
null, Joel
Author:
Cunningham, Carol
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Mammals
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Subject:
Wildlife conservation
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection - Endangered Species
Subject:
Black rhinoceros
Subject:
Life Sciences | Vertebrate Zoology | Mammalogy
Subject:
Wildlife conservation -- Africa.
Subject:
Animals - Mammals
Subject:
General-General
Copyright:
Series Volume:
92200.7-02D
Publication Date:
19970431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
60 halftones
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.38x6.40x.90 in. 1.41 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Reference » Science Reference » Technology
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » African Wildlife
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » World Wildlife

Horn of Darkness: Rhinos on the Edge Used Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Oxford University Press - English 9780195111132 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , What hope remains for Africa's black rhinos? This book addresses that question by mixing local people and attitudes with biology and adventure while describing the challenges of doing ecological fieldwork in a difficult setting, while accompanied by a small child. It moves beyond typical nature studies by featuring real world components of conservaiton — the delicate mix of western science and local interests and values, political and economic influences, and personal commitment.
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