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Reviewed by Eduardo Aduna for Readers' Favorite
Tsavo: Oddball Researchers Use Data and Guns to Save African Elephants by Daniel B. Botkin is an engaging story that highlights the plight of elephant conservation efforts amidst a backdrop of foreign intervention, danger, violence, local cultural norms, and scientific investigation. Told from numerous character viewpoints and written in a fast-paced and engaging style, Tsavo is modern ecological story-telling at its finest. There is little doubt that humanity has had a significant impact on animal populations, with endangered species like the African elephant pushed to the brink of extinction. Tsavo does an excellent job of capturing the myriad complex viewpoints surrounding what many people believe to be a simple cut-and-dried case of conservation.
Daniel Botkin shows both sides of poaching and animal killing, taking into consideration the achievement and economic aspect of trophy hunting as well as the ecosystem-preserving impact of animal culling. He forces readers to recognize that there is no simple, easy, one size fits all solution to current ecological dilemmas. The author also does an excellent job of emphasizing the clash of viewpoints between integrated conservation efforts that involve the local population and zealous preservation efforts from external organizations that promote leaving nature alone, regardless of scientific evidence that doing so could cause more harm than good. Tsavo with its engaging characters and fast-paced storyline gives readers a glimpse of elephant conservation in humanity’s first home and shows us how far we still need to go to attain a balance between our needs and the survival of a species that is the perfect epitome of the majesty of nature.