FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WATKINSVILLE, GA (Feb. 10, 2023) –Valentine’s Day is a special occasion for lovers of all ages. This year, in addition to giving a dozen roses that will wilt within a week, and a box of quickly devoured and soon forgotten chocolates, why not add a gift that will keep on giving, one that will spark deep thought and inspire for a lifetime? That gift is a copy of Mike Arnold’s trendsetting book, Bringing Back the Lions: International Hunters, Local Tribespeople, and the Miraculous Rescue of a Doomed Ecosystem in Mozambique. The value of this gift will continue for years to come.
In Bringing Back the Lions, Arnold, a Distinguished Research Professor of Genetics at the University of Georgia and one of the world’s leading conservation writers, details how a small group of professional hunters spearheaded a near-30-year effort to return a once-incredible wildlife paradise from a decimated and near-barren landscape to one of the world’s premier wildlands, the area of Mozambique known as Coutada 11, an official concession covering 2000 square kilometers (approximately 772 square miles) and including some of the most diverse habitat and animal species in Africa.
Written not in the boring style of a textbook or science class lecture but instead entertaining and captivating, this book details how, for generations, conservationists around the world have spent billions of dollars and countless hours trying to restore wildlife and wildlife habitat in areas of sub-Sahara Africa decimated by many factors, including poachers, corrupt governments, hungry local populations, and a lack of education and experience in how to balance current needs and wants with long-term, sustainable goals that benefit both wildlife and local peoples. And while these efforts often produce short-term results, long-term successes have been few and far between.
“During my time in Coutada 11, I came to understand the substance of what I call the ‘invisible line,’ which demarked a barren landscape with one filled with life,” Arnold said. “I found that it depended on a combination of local villagers’ full bellies, employment, and empowerment; just as much, it depended on protection against marauders who would unthinkingly tear apart the environmental web. On one side of the line, no animals, few trees — a moonscape; on the other, a solid canopy of trees broken by the occasional natural clearing, containing a super-abundance of wildlife. The line reflected the restoration and protection of many ecosystems.
“Not coincidentally, the ‘invisible line’ also separated Sena hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers from a previously unheard-of category of their brethren: A rural population of middle-class shopkeepers, cash-crop farmers, and employees of the safari industry, an industry that caused the transformation of ecosystems and Sena villagers’ lives,” Arnold said. “I had forgotten the truth. In wild Africa, just as in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, you encounter wild animals only where they are more valuable alive than as food. Here, as around the world, the model of conservation-through-hunting works when nothing else will. Even photographic tourism, with its associated infrastructure of roads and hotels needed to ferry and house the swarms of tourists, leaves an enormous carbon footprint compared with hunting concessions, which host a fraction of the number of visitors.”
“Professor Arnold’s work is a wonderful mix of travelogue, adventure yarn, historical novel, and environmental odyssey — an uplifting tale of ecological and social restoration,” said Ian Sherman of Oxford University Press.
A life-long hunter who has traveled the globe, Arnold has published hundreds of research articles and four books on a variety of topics, including conservation biology. Publications such as Science Magazine, The New York Times, and National Public Radio continue calling Mike for interviews covering his research. In late 2022, he attended the 20th annual meeting of the African Wildlife Consultative Forum in Maputo, Mozambique, where he was honored to be able to present a copy of his book to the Honorable Carlos dos Santos, Mozambique Ambassador to the United States. Recently, he was also given the opportunity to present an inscribed copy of Bringing Back the Lions to former United States Secretary of State James A. Baker.
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