The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World’s Greatest Creatures – Review

The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World's Greatest CreaturesPoachingFacts rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another fantastic, real-life adventure by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence. Unlike thrillers found in the fiction section, The Last Rhinos dispenses with suspense and focuses on describing the full gamut of challenges faced by Anthony and his hand-picked team to save the Northern White Rhinoceroses in Garamba National Park. By reading the title the broader subject is already spoiled and those individuals that have read other memoirs by Lawrence Anthony will already be familiar with some of the cast – human and wildlife alike. But the charm and interest of all of these works remains in the warm, personable telling of the events, the hardships, and the humorous anecdotes.

However the deeper story is about the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army and the region’s struggle to find lasting peace even as the rebel group operates in wildlife reserves occupied by the last northern white rhinoceroses. It also serves as a gentle criticism of the bureaucracy of modern conservation. With so many different non-governmental organizations at regional and international exerting different opinions on how to save wildlife, finding a common way forward that saves wildlife in an efficient and timely manner can be a struggle. Compounding the problem are local and national-level politics, corruption, and instability which make yielding results that much more challenging.

The Last Rhinos: My Battle to Save One of the World’s Greatest Creatures focuses more on adventure than wildlife behavior and specific acts of conservation. Yet it’s suitable for a wide audience and is a very accessible and important glimpse of some of the conflict within Central Africa and all of the hope for a peaceful future that fuels the hearts of the people.

Lawrence Anthony passed away in 2012, but the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization continues his tradition and values of pursuing practical conservation projects aimed at making the world a better place for humans and wildlife.

Other Books by the Author:

Lawrence Anthony has written two other true stories, with the help of Graham Spence, chronicling his other personal adventures in conservation.

The Elephant Whisperer recounts his experiences and success in providing a home to an elephant herd recently traumatized after having one of its members shot for being a “problem elephant.” Anthony does his best to create a situation that is suitable to the elephants on his Thula Thula Game Reserve and that does not endanger any of the people living or working nearby. He quickly finds that the elephants are both very clever and very determined not to be caged and deported from their natural homes and Anthony must contend not only with the will of the matriarch, but also the emotions of the herd itself. Along this journey he notes many amazing characteristics of elephants and emphasizes their capacity to interpret and understand the world around them.

Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo is worth reading for anyone impacted by the U.S.-led coalition’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, or anyone with an interest in wildlife preservation. It adds another perspective to the conflict and highlights not only the lives led by the city’s inhabitants during the inter-war period but also the lives of the animals in the Baghdad Zoo and those kept by the Saddam family in their lavish homes.

With more determination than a plan, Anthony set out to rescue animals who were as unaccustomed to warfare as the people of Baghdad. On his journey he meets an array of selfless individuals willing to help, these include zoo employees hoping to return to work even as fighting continues in the city, South African private security volunteering their own time to guard the dangerous area around the zoo, and American forces that volunteer their time, rations, and money to help Anthony on his quest to save all the remaining zoo animals — and those across the city who have been caught up in illegal wildlife trafficking and are held in poor conditions.

Further Reading:

Readers who enjoy the topics of wildlife behavior and African wildlife conservation will also be interested in Gareth Patterson‘s several books on lion conservation, rehabilitation, and rewilding including: To Walk with Lions, Last of the Free, and My Lion’s Heart: A Life for the Lions of Africa.

Kobie Krüger‘s The Wilderness Family is also highly recommended and depicts a warm and vibrant reality of the South African Lowveld as experienced by her game warden husband and their family living inside the world famous Kruger National Park in South Africa.


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