The Kingdom of Rarities by Eric Dinerstein

Kingdom of Rarities“To be a Naturalist is better than to be a King”

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

This book has taken me on a joyous jaunt round the world in the company of some amazing creatures and a guide whose enthusiasm and love for his work shines through every word. A storyteller of extraordinary skill, Dinerstein could make the smallest, greyest rodent fascinating if he chose. But since he has a world full of rare species to tell us about, instead we are treated to tales of the golden-fronted bowerbird, the scarlet minivet, the red panda, the jaguar, Mrs Gould’s sunbird…

Mrs Gould's Sunbird
Mrs Gould’s Sunbird

There is a serious purpose to this book: to look at why rare species are rare and to determine what intervention is required to conserve them and their habitats. Dinerstein shows us the effects of Big Ag in the rainforests of South America, of war in Vietnam and Cambodia, of species invasion in Hawaii, and speculates on the possible effects of global warming on these threatened rarities. Sometimes such books are read with a sense of duty and a heavy heart – but not this one. All through Dinerstein highlights the positives as much as the negatives, offers solutions, tells us of the amazing things that are already being achieved both by nature and by man; and left this reader, at least, with an enormous sense of hope.

Red Panda
Red Panda

Generously Dinerstein name-checks many of the naturalists and ecologists, past and present, who have and are doing so much to reverse the trend towards extinctions, and plays down his own role as a leading conservationist and Lead Scientist at the WWF. The sciency stuff is slotted in so seamlessly amidst the glorious descriptions of flora and fauna that it’s easy for a non-academic to absorb – especially if a dictionary is close to hand! Dinerstein’s writing style is natural and flowing, sometimes ascending to the lyrical – it’s like listening to a friend tell you all about his greatest enthusiasm, with his thoughts, passion for the subject and plenty of humour all on display.

One-horned Rhino
One-horned Rhino

The book has some lovely little pencil drawings of some of the species discussed and maps of the various regions visited. I would have loved there to be more pictures, but so many wondrous things were discussed I could see the impossibility of having pictures of them all. A combination of Google Images and youtube filled that gap, though it slowed my reading rate to a crawl as every chapter is crowded with rare, fascinating and quite amazingly beautiful things. I feel as if I’ve had a glorious holiday and come back relaxed, refreshed and with a sense that the future for these fragile rarities is in the best of hands. Highly recommended as an informative and wonderfully enjoyable read.

This book was provided for review by the publisher via NetGalley.

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