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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Human Snare is a non-fiction wildlife conservation book written and with art by Rick Wood. Wood is a wildlife photographer and journalist. He’s also filmed documentaries in his efforts to bring the plight of marine mammals and turtles to the public’s attention. When Cecil the lion was slaughtered in 2015, there was an international outcry. Cecil had been safely ensconced in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe for 13 years until an American dentist paid $50,000 for a guided hunt which led to Cecil being shot, beheaded, and skinned. Wood wanted to understand how we got to this point, how poaching was leading to the deaths of not only Cecil but a significant portion of the more than 20,000 elephants who die annually. The first stop on his four-year effort to get to the bottom of this issue was Tanzania, where poachers and conservationists are at loggerheads, and the elephants are caught in the crossfire. He soon discovered there were no easy answers. Poverty is widespread in the country, leading some to poach to feed their families and simply survive.
Rick Wood’s The Human Snare kept me engaged and involved as I read his story and studied the accompanying illustrations. The plights of the animals Wood researched also affect me deeply, and I remember my outrage after hearing about Cecil’s slaughter. Wood offers some hard truths as he explores the cultures he visits, and the plight of Tanzanians, who’ve been decimated by HIV/AIDS as well as experiencing widespread poverty, does give one pause to consider what options the inhabitants have and what conservationists can do to offer alternatives to the wholesale destruction of species. Wood’s images are detailed and unforgettable, and his story makes clear the urgent need for more action to ensure the survival of endangered species. The Human Snare is most highly recommended.