Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations, by Eric Dinerstein, makes me want to get myself born again and relive my life as a field biologist. Ah, to spend my days tracking tigers, observing bats, pulling off leeches... I missed my calling.
Dinerstein is Vice President for Science at World Wildlife Fund, US. That's a big, relatively well-funded, well-respected conservation organization active in many countries. Which results in some real limits on Dinerstein's candor, alas, about fellow conservationists. And he shows a great deal about his work, but reveals nothing about his personal life.
Within these limitations, this is a fun and fascinating read about the inner workings of conservation research in many parts of the world. Tigers, bats, snow leopards... He writes about forgotten places such as New Caledonia and the heart-breaking task of protecting its rare plants. Each chapter is a personal experience of a different place.
In addition to making me wish to start my professional life over, Tigerland inspires me to reach for my checkbook. He really makes the case that the people out there in the heat, the dirt, and the endless meetings trying to save the natural world from humanity deserve our support.
Conservation is sloooow work.