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The Black Rhinos of Namibia: Searching for Survivors in the African Desert


The Black Rhinos of Namibia: Searching for Survivors in the African Desert Cover





I had been apprehensive about traveling to Africa, not yet understanding, as I do now, that the world is Africa: that Africa has been at the back of the worlds curve for so long that it is now nearing the front again; that the rest of the world, which came from Africa, is becoming Africa again, as if the secret yearnings of an older, more original world are beginning to stir once more, desiring and now seeking reunification by whatever means possible: perhaps subtly, or perhaps immense and grandiose. 

There is less and less a line, invisible or otherwise, between Africa and the world. And rather than arousing alarm—or is this my imagination?—it seems possible to perceive that as Africas long woes and experiences become increasingly familiar to the larger world—radiating, as the origin and then expansion of certain species, including our own, is said to have radiated from Africa—into the larger or farther and newer world—we are turning to Africa not with quite so much colonial patronizing, but with greater respect, partnership. 

There are those elsewhere in the world recognizing now that although Africa cannot by certain measurements be said to have prospered, it has, after all, survived—while many in the United States, for instance, exponentially less-tested, are already buckling and fragmenting, falling apart at the seams. I am not saying our country yet has a whiff or taste of Africas troubles—yet I am suggesting, however, that perhaps our own little sag is creating a space, within that sag, for something other than arrogance, and maybe even something other than inattention. 

One country in Africa, Namibia, is fixing one problem—and I will not label it a small, medium, or large problem—with creativity and resolve. Thats one problem solved, with a near-eternity of problems still remaining. But its a start. 

We in the United States, on the other hand, are moving backwards: removing nothing from our checklist of either social or environmental woes—still, in fact, proceeding, with the absurd premise that there is a wall between the two—and, in fact, adding to our lengthy checklist of unsolved problems and crises. Often we create new ones as we go, trudging into the new century, with considerable unease, as if not only poorly-sighted, but possessing none of the other sensors at all, compassion included. Moving forward into the century, but backward into time and history, while some countries in Africa (and elsewhere) inch forward. 

What is the individuals duty, in a time of war—ecological, and otherwise? 

What is the individuals duty, in a time of world war? 

Always, the two most time-tested answers seem to arise: to bear witness, and to love the world more fully and in-the-moment, as it becomes increasingly suspect or even obvious that future such moments will be compromised, or perhaps nonexistent. 

And yet: one would be a fool to come away silently from the Namib Desert, having seen what Ive seen—people in a nearly-waterless land continuing to dream and try new solutions, land- and community-based, and move forward with pride and vigor and perhaps rarest and most valuable of all these days, the vitality of hope. 

The rhino—guardian of this hard edge of the world, pushed here to the precipice—is giving them hope.

Product Details

Bass, Rick
Houghton Mifflin
Environmental Studies-Environment
Dogs - General
General Nature
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
8 x 5.31 in 1 lb

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The Black Rhinos of Namibia: Searching for Survivors in the African Desert Used Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) - English 9780547055213 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Novelist and memoirist Bass (Why I Came West) records his travels to Namibia to 'witness... a ponderous beast out upon such a naked and seemingly unsupporting landscape.' At Damaraland, in the Namib Desert, Bass encounters activist Mike Hearn of the Save the Rhino Trust. Throughout the book, Bass renders an affectionate portrait of Hearn and his life's work defending rhinos. No actual rhino appears until more than halfway through, when searches culminate in two perilous and riveting encounters. Later, Bass travels from Damaraland to the tamer and popular Etosha National Park. While the rhino's plight, and efforts to ensure its recovery, are given considerable attention, Bass's time in the desert, among its animals and vastness, focuses him on 'the big questions': the origin of life, the rhino's miraculous adaptation to the desert's austerity, and what humanity can learn from the magnificent animal. Time in the desert also yields touching meditations on time itself — its nature, and our experience of it. To describe the desert, another protagonist, Bass must examine the nature of perception: 'The barren land unscrolls before us as if being created by the very act of our seeing.' On occasion, Bass struggles to infuse the ruminations with poetry; his prose, packed with similes and comparisons, can be cumbersome. Agent: Robert Datilla, the Phoenix Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Acclaimed nature writer Rick Bass takes us on a journey into the Namib Desert to follow a group of poachers-turned-conservationists as they track the endangered black rhinos through their ancient and harsh African homeland.
"Synopsis" by ,
The Lost Grizzlies chronicles the ongoing search for proof that a small number of grizzly bears still lives in the isolated mountain wilds of southern Colorado. Rick Bass turns his considerable talents to an evocation of wilderness beauty and the history of human encroachment that may, or may not, have wiped out the last of these massive, solitary bears from their southern range.
"Synopsis" by ,
In this poignant look at the thirty-year journey of one of our countrys great naturalist writers, Rick Bass describes how he fell in love with the mystique of the West--as a dramatic landscape, as an idea, and as a way of life. Bass grew up in the suburban sprawl of Houston, and after attending college in Utah he spent eight years working in Mississippi as a geologist, until one day he packed up and went in search of something visceral, true, and real. He found it in the remote Yaak Valley of northwestern Montana, where despite extensive logging not a single species has gone extinct since the last Ice Age.

Bass has lived in “the Yaak” ever since, and in Why I Came West he chronicles his transformation into the writer, hunter, and environmental activist that he is today. He explains how the rugged, wild landscape smoothed out his own rough edges; attempts to define the appeal of the West that so transfixed him as a boy, a place of mountains and outlaws and continual rebirth; and tells of his own role as a reluctant activist—sometimes at odds with his own neighbors—unwilling to stand idly by and watch this treasured place disappear.

Rick Bass is the author of many acclaimed books of nonfiction and fiction, including The Lives of Rocks, The Diezmo, and Winter.

"Synopsis" by , Rick Bass takes us on a stunning exploration of an unique landscape, one of the most ancient and harshest on earth, and the improbable and endangered animal that makes its home there.

The black rhinos of the Namib Desert are super-survivors — muscle-clad, squinty-eyed giants with feet the diameter of laundry baskets. But until recently, the survival of these animals was very much in question and their numbers dwindled on the edge of extinction in Namibia.

In the tradition of Matthiessen's The Tree Where Man Was Born, Bass captures a slice of Africa — the haunting sound of doves cooing at first light each morning, the laughter of hyenas at night, the otherworldly heat — and most enduringly of all the "black" rhinos that glow ghostly white in the gleaming sun.

"Synopsis" by ,
Colter was the runt of the litter, and Rick Bass took him only because nobody else would. Soon, though, Bass realized he had a raging genius on his hands, and he raided his daughters' college fund to send Colter to the best schools. Colter could be a champion, Rick was told, but he'd have to be broken, slowed down. Rick "could no more imagine a slowing-down Colter than a slow-motion bolt of lightning in the sky," and instead of breaking Colter he followed him. Colter led him into new territory, an unexplored land where he felt more alive, more intimately connected to the world, than he'd ever been before. In the course of telling us Colter's story, Rick Bass also tells us of his childhood fascination with snapping turtles and dirt, and of the other animals - including people - that have shaped his life. COLTER is an interspecies love story that vividly captures the relationship between humans and dogs. Like all of Bass's work, it is passionate, poetic, and original.
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