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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Posts Tagged ‘highways’

The War on India’s Tiger Reserves

Posted by Richard Conniff on May 15, 2015

(Photo: Aditya Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo: Aditya Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

I’ve been reporting a story lately in India, and one day’s drive between two important tiger reserves reminded me that wildlife survives here only in the face of endless challenges, and with almost all the money and power working in opposition.

The day started in Bhadra Tiger Preserve in the Western Ghats mountain range, and our destination was Kudremukh National Park, 75 miles to the west, with just a thread of wildlife corridor—less than a mile in width—connecting the two.

Bhadra is a beautiful forest with a dirt road winding among tall, straight teak trees. The tigers were in hiding, but there were chital deer in herds, and solo muntjac deer peering out at us nervously. A giant squirrel with big ears and a red tail half again as long as its body stared down. Yellow-toed green pigeons with gorgeous crimson wings busied themselves at a patch of mud.

People were the main challenge here, as everywhere in India. More than 700 families used to live in this forest, in 13 villages. The politically correct point of view, especially among human rights activists, is that indigenous people should stay in the forest, as an integral part of the natural world. There is plenty to be said for this point of view when loggers, palm oil producers, and oil companies hack down forests around tribal people who have always lived there.

But the reality in India

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Highways as the Last Hope for Some Wildlife

Posted by Richard Conniff on September 27, 2013

Everywhere in the world people are moving to cities and suburbs, covering the landscape in houses, highways, office developments, and strip malls.  Just in the lifetimes of today’s 20-somethings, urban coverage in the lower 48 states will more than triple–from 2.5 percent to 8.1 percent of the landscape by 2050.  In some Northeastern states, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the land will be more than 60 percent urban by mid-century, up from about 35 percent now.

So where will plants and animals fit in this crowded world?  Nowhere at all, unless planners figure out how to make a place for them.  It may be a mark of desperate times, but many conservationists are now looking to the sides of highways as the only place left for some species to live.

The United States has four million miles of highways, most of them with substantial unpaved medians and margins. Planting grass is the standard treatment, partly because that’s how the guys in the highway department have always done it, and partly because political patronage at the county level drives the investment in machinery and gasoline. But a few states now take a greener approach.

In Iowa, for instance, the wall-to-wall planting of corn means hardly any of the original prairie habitat has survived. So that state has become a leader at … to read the rest of this story, click here.

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