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The Last Panda

by George B. Schaller

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1012199,700 (4)1
Dependent on a shrinking supply of bamboo, hunted mercilessly for its pelt, and hostage to profiteering schemes once in captivity, the panda is on the brink of extinction. Here, acclaimed naturalist George Schaller uses his great evocative powers, and the insight gained by four and a half years in the forests of the Wolong and Tangjiahe panda reserves, to document the plight of these mysterious creatures and to awaken the human compassion urgently needed to save them. "No scientist is better at letting the rest of us in on just how the natural world works; no poet sees the world with greater clarity or writes about it with more grace. . . . Anyone who genuinely cares for wildlife cannot help being grateful to Schaller--both for his efforts to understand the panda and for the candor with which he reports what has gone so badly wrong in the struggle to save it from extinction."--Geoffrey C. Ward, New York Times Book Review "Schaller's book is a unique mix of natural history and the politics of conservation, and it makes for compelling reading. . . . Having been in giant panda country myself, I found some of the descriptions of the animals and habitats breathtaking. Schaller describes the daily routines and personalities of the giant pandas he studied (as well as their fates thereafter) as though they were his blood relatives. . . . Schaller's brilliant presentation of the complexities of conservation makes his book a milestone for the conservation movement."--Devra G. Kleiman, Washington Post Book World "George Schaller's most soulful work, written in journal style with many asides about a creature who evolved only two to three million years ago (about the same time as humans). . . . Here, conservation biology confronts an evil that grinds against hope and shatters the planet's diversity. Written with hope."--Whole Earth Catalog "A nicely crafted blend of wildlife observation and political-cultural analysis. . . . The Last Panda is a sad chronicle of our failure, so far, to stem the decline of the animal that may be the most beloved on the planet."--Donald Dale Jackson, Smithsonian… (more)
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4.25 stars

George Schaller is a biologist and conservationist who has studied various wildlife in their natural settings. In this book, he gives us an account of the time he spent in China in the early 1980s studying the panda.

I really liked this. I didn't know much about the panda and of course, a portion of this book was spent on the pandas he met in the wild while he was there, but a significant amount of the book was also spent detailing the cultural and political hurdles of the project coordinated by the World Wildlife Fund, along with the Chinese government and a few other Chinese organizations, none of which seemed to coordinate very well or agree on a whole lot. There were also plenty of frustrations around the people who were sent to work at the research station, many of whom didn't want to be there. So, there was a lot of politics in the book, as well (which kept my interest more than I might have expected). It is nonfiction, which does tend to take a little longer to get through, but if you have an interest in wildlife and/or endangered species, it is well worth the read. ( )
  LibraryCin | Dec 30, 2018 |
Well written, fascinating but depressing. How do you save Pandas? Capture them, store them in concrete prison cells and maintain them with low-wage untrained caretakers. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Jan 6, 2007 |
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Dependent on a shrinking supply of bamboo, hunted mercilessly for its pelt, and hostage to profiteering schemes once in captivity, the panda is on the brink of extinction. Here, acclaimed naturalist George Schaller uses his great evocative powers, and the insight gained by four and a half years in the forests of the Wolong and Tangjiahe panda reserves, to document the plight of these mysterious creatures and to awaken the human compassion urgently needed to save them. "No scientist is better at letting the rest of us in on just how the natural world works; no poet sees the world with greater clarity or writes about it with more grace. . . . Anyone who genuinely cares for wildlife cannot help being grateful to Schaller--both for his efforts to understand the panda and for the candor with which he reports what has gone so badly wrong in the struggle to save it from extinction."--Geoffrey C. Ward, New York Times Book Review "Schaller's book is a unique mix of natural history and the politics of conservation, and it makes for compelling reading. . . . Having been in giant panda country myself, I found some of the descriptions of the animals and habitats breathtaking. Schaller describes the daily routines and personalities of the giant pandas he studied (as well as their fates thereafter) as though they were his blood relatives. . . . Schaller's brilliant presentation of the complexities of conservation makes his book a milestone for the conservation movement."--Devra G. Kleiman, Washington Post Book World "George Schaller's most soulful work, written in journal style with many asides about a creature who evolved only two to three million years ago (about the same time as humans). . . . Here, conservation biology confronts an evil that grinds against hope and shatters the planet's diversity. Written with hope."--Whole Earth Catalog "A nicely crafted blend of wildlife observation and political-cultural analysis. . . . The Last Panda is a sad chronicle of our failure, so far, to stem the decline of the animal that may be the most beloved on the planet."--Donald Dale Jackson, Smithsonian

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