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review 2018-04-06 22:20
Save the mountain gorillas
Gorillas in the Mist - Dian Fossey

Much like when I reviewed Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man, I quickly fell in love with the gorillas that Dian Fossey describes in exquisite detail in her book Gorillas in the Mist. (You may have heard of it.) Dr. Fossey moved to the Virungas of Africa (Zaire, Uganda, and Rwanda) to study the mountain gorillas that lived there. That study ended up taking nearly 20 years. However, she wasn't only studying the habits of the gorillas but also the parasites, environment (rainfall), vegetation, and the other animals that lived there (elephants, buffalo, duiker). (Basically, whatever she and her team could study they did to increase their chances of getting more grant money and lengthening their stay.) One of the things that Fossey stressed was that it would take more than passive conservation (tourism) to keep the mountain gorillas alive and thriving. She found that active conservation was the only way to go which meant that she had to employ staff to track down poacher's lairs and destroy their supplies and traps. Basically, she was a bada$$ of the highest caliber and the surrounding villagers had a nickname for her (it wasn't sweet lady of the mountain either). She quickly earned a reputation for not backing down and for doing everything within her power to protect these creatures from imminent extinction (which is looking more and more likely). Between poachers, population encroachment, and decreasing territory for the different gorilla groups there were only 242 mountain gorillas left at the end of her nearly two decade study. There are even less now. Fossey's fervent desire was that governments and the people governed by them would want to conserve these animals because they lived in the area providing the only fresh water source for the region. However, deforestation to make way for increasing numbers of people and farms continued no matter what arguments she put forth. I had heard about this book and its movie adaptation before but it wasn't until I saw Ellen DeGeneres talking about it (on her birthday episode) that I decided to finally pick up the book. I am so glad that I did. Even if you only read the appendices (which are absolutely phenomenal) you'd learn so much about these amazing animals and the land they inhabit. You'd also bear witness to the dedication and passion which Fossey had for her research. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Gorillas in the Mist and afterward that you do further research into Fossey because it makes it all the more poignant and meaningful (at least it did for me). 10/10


Source: My Hero

What's Up Next: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine


What I'm Currently Reading: juggling 3 books as the mood strikes me.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2013-10-02 05:15
My Border Collie is Smarter than Your Honor Roll Student
Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words - John W. Pilley
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel (P.S.) - David Wroblewski
A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me - Jon Katz
The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think - Brian Hare,Vanessa Woods

Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog who Knows a Thousand Words is a book which chronicles Chaser’s training and her owner, John Pilley’s dog-owning history in a friendly, citizen-science sort of way. The book details how Chaser was trained from a small pup to recognize a large number of toys by specific, unique names, an experiment devised to prove that dogs can learn language much like a human toddler does. Later, Pilley moves on to other interactions, giving specific directions as to how Chaser must interact with the named toy, where she should take it, etc. There are also anecdotes than any Border Collie owner will recognize as pure BC, such as when Chaser thinks up a ball on the stairs game and teaches it to John, or when a group of herding dogs pick up behaviors from one another by imitation.


I enjoyed this book because I live with a Border Collie and it is clear to me that she understands more of what is said to her than some people would like to think she does. My border collie understands specific object names, prepositions such as around, under, below, behind, and sequences of directions involving 3 or more ideas. She also thinks up rules to play games and communicates them, as Chaser did in the book. Although she understands commands, she can communicate when she thinks the human has given a silly command, and often, it turns out she’s right.


Most dog owners will enjoy this book, but particularly those Border Collie owners who think AKC certification is a big sham and who have the bumper sticker that says “My Border Collie is smarter than your honor roll student” will get a kick out of Chaser’s working drive. Those who are interested in primatology and the recent crossover between primate studies and dog science will find this a good addition to recent research in those fields. People who liked the Jon Katz books or The Story of Edgar Sawtelle will enjoy this as well. Strong readers in 5th grade and up will find this book fascinating as kids always believe in their dogs just as strongly as the author does.


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