Eric Dinerstein’s book Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations provides a vivid account of some incredible wild places and magical creatures that inhabit our planet. Tigerland engages the reader’s attention from the first chapter and keeps you riveted until the end. The first three chapters focus on Dinerstein’s adventures and experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer and graduate student. The later chapters are accounts of Dinerstein’s professional experience at the World Wildlife Fund. Tigerland provides passionate accounts of travels to and conservation efforts in well-known places such as Serengeti and Galapagos, and lesser-known yet equally awe-inspiring places like New Caledonia. Dinerstein takes readers on a journey from observing tigers and snow leopards in Asia, to bats and otters in the Americas. The chapters provide you with glimpse of spectacular places such as the Galapagos and North American Great Plains and their unique natural history.
His attention to detail is excellent. His accounts of natural history are engaging, and scientific descriptions are lucid (Captaincookia trees and kagus in New Caledonia, prairie dogs in Montana).
His anecdotes of being woken up by rhinos and crossing rivers on elephant back in Nepal, catching a wrinkle-faced bat in Costa Rica, and being chased up a tree by hippos in Tanzania are lively and fit seamlessly into the different chapters.
Tigerland introduces us to an interesting array of naturalists and conservationists, some familiar, and many unknown. The book provides insights into challenges that these people who work in these places face—from the physical discomforts of fieldwork in high-altitude regions such as Kashmir to life-threatening Chagas disease in the Orinoco Basin. We come to appreciate the passion, perseverance, and commitment of these remarkable people and their valiant efforts to save these places.
Dinerstein clearly articulates the science, advocacy, and his passion for nature. He succinctly brings to our attention the many conservation problems and challenges that exist (small size of reserves, dwindling populations, poaching, illegal wildlife trade, fragmentation, logging, introduction of invasive species). Tigerland leaves the reader marvelling at the extraordinary wild places and animals that exist on our planet with the hope that the battle to save nature is worth fighting and awakens a sense of responsibility towards joining in the efforts to save earth’s biodiversity.
Krithi K. Karanth, is Doctoral Candidate, Duke University.