FOR ALL INTERESTED IN WILDLIFE CONSRVATION
For all those people interested in the future of African wild mammals, Haigh's book is a must, Part polemic, part scientific review, part memoir, part recruitment agency for his student courses, and part history, but all very readable and always entertaining. The book opens with Haigh returning to his former haunts near the slopes of Mount Kenya with musings on his time in general practice in Nanyuki. There are some excellent descriptions of clinical cases and treatments in both livestock and wild animals but soon he is discussing what I feel is the main topic of his book, the interplay between humans and the wild animals that inhabit his land. The arguments for and against the bush meat trade are well put and he states clearly that he is a hunter in his adopted homeland of Canada where his family live almost exclusively off Haigh's gun and fishing rod. He sees clearly that people have to eat and that if they have to poach for the survival of their family then this they will do. This attitude is contrasted with his views on those poaching for the "medical market" - the supposed aphrodisiac, where a majestic animal is slaughtered for a few kilos of horn: a trade that must be wiped out.
I agree with Haigh's view that in order to survive, animals must pay their way and he describes the success of the Zimbabwean CAMPFIRE project despite the collapse in the economy of that country. Conservation is at the heart of all Haigh's work, be it in Africa or Canada and his love of the countryside and its wildlife shines through in this book. The story moves from east to west Africa with stopovers in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana in the south. I was delighted to read of the way the Canadian students far from home and in a strange land had managed to bond not only with their university counterparts but also with the villagers to such an extent that they are now providing equipment for the local schools.
Having a son living in Helsinki, I must point out the error on page 331: the yellow and blue flag is not that of Finland but Sweden - the Finnish flag has a blue cross on a white background. My major complaint with the book is not with the author but with the publisher; the book is profusely illustrated with what are obviously excellent photographs but the reproduction on the matt paper does not do justice to the pictures. I will end as I started by stating that this is an excellent and entertaining read and should be studied by all who are interested in wildlife conservation, and by all those who enjoy a good read.