Douglas Adams Last Chance to See
Douglas Adams Last Chance to See
Douglas Adams Last Chance to See
Price: $29.72 FREE for Members
Type: Audio Book
Format: mp3
Language: English

Douglas Adams Last Chance to See Unb

Who would have thought that a book in the field of ecology/nature…could be as lively, sharply satirical, brilliantly written and even funny as this one is?…ranks with the best set pieces in Mark Twain.
— Atlantic Monthly
Lit Crit-
Douglas Adams' sense of humour is so strong, it could inject a bucketful of laughs into an obituary. Needless to say I wasn't surprised when this book, his elegy for endangered species, turned out to have a welcome balance between laughter and melancholy.

Adams is joined by zoologist Mark Carwardine, as they use their last chance to see a variety of animals on the brink of extinction, such as the Komodo Dragon, the White Rhinos of Zaire, New Zealand kakapos, and Yangtze river dolphins. Adams, amateur wildlife lover, is wise enough to know the purpose of his journey: to shine some of the glare from his celebrity as a science-fiction comedy novelist on the issue of global extinction. He does wisely not to downplay the plight of these animals in the favour of commerciality, but manages to produce an entertaining work nonetheless. Carwardine, and the other people we encounter, sometimes come off as little more than characters in a Douglas Adams novel. I am hesitant to believe that everyone he encounters has the same dry, deadpanned British sense of humour. Nonetheless, the characters' eccentricities further shed light on the kinds of people who are willing to undertake the monumental task of saving these beautiful beasts. It is not work for the dispassionate.

The great thing about being the only species that makes a distinction between right and wrong, he notes at one point, is that we can make up the rules for ourselves as we go along. Which brings up the second theme he hopes to illustrate here. Humans are dumb. No, that's too simple. Humans are egotistical, selfish, wasteful, materialistic, impudent, and dumb. The single, overwhelming reason why most of these animals must fight for their survival is the sheer audacity humans have in moving into their natural habitat, and upsetting the balance of nature. Adams has no time for individual moments of human idiocy, best exemplified by his wonderful line skewering young Yemeni men who insist on wearing rhino tusk costume jewelry: How do you persuade [them] that a rhino horn dagger is not a symbol of your manhood but a signal of the fact that you need such a symbol? His exasperation is evident in this and other such pearls of prose.

Animals covered-
1988: Almost extinct - about 20 believed to be left in Madagascar
2009: Recently, scientists have (thankfully) found that the aye aye is less rare than previously thought. It is now thought that the aye aye's range is much broader than used to be believed, though at very low population densities.
1988: About 5,000 left, with 350 breeding females
1988: 4,000 to 5,000 left, with 350 breeding females. Weirdly, the Komodo Dragon was recently discovered to be one of the few animals capable of parthenogenesis, or virgin birth, which could mean some females could give birth even without mating.
1988: 22 left in the wild, critically endangered
2009: Extinct, due chiefly to massive civil wars in Democratic Congo (former Zaire). In 2005, four of the rhinos were spotted; now there appear to be none at all. Eight of the rhinos still survive in captivity, with a grand total of three actually capable of breeding.
1988: 43 left in the wild
2009: 125 left in the wild, thanks to rigorous efforts by conservationists.
1988: 200 left in the wild
2009: Extinct. The population dwindled to about 50 by 1997, to about 7 by 1998, and to nil by about 2005, thanks to the Three Gorges Dam. Six Baijis remain in captivity. Their names are Qi Qi (photographed in the book), Rong Rong, Lian Lian, Zhen Zhen, Ya Ya and Jiang Jiang. One captive Baiji was killed in a flood in 1996.
1988: 200 left in the wild
2009: 1,000 left in the wild. Still considered critically endangered.
1988: 100 in the wild
2009: 800 in the wild - no longer considered endangered
1988: 15 left in the wild
2009: 300 left in the wild, thanks to massive efforts by conservationists.
1988: Fewer than 10
2009: 360 in the wild, again due to an immense effort.

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