The Ethiopian Wolf: Hope at the Edge of Extinction
Book reviewThe Ethiopian wolf, one of only two wolf species in Africa, is seriously endangered, with only 450 individuals left. However, hope remains among the conservationists who are doing heroic work to preserve this fascinating species for future generations. Success would not only mean survival for the Ethiopian wolf, but also a great deal learned about how to save other species threatened by things like habitat loss, disease, overgrazing, etc.
This is a review of a book about this very adventure: Photographers Will Burrard-Lucas and Rebecca R. Jackrel traveled to the highlands of Ethiopia to document the lives of the remaining Ethiopian wolves and the work the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme is doing to preserve the species for future generations.
But before we continue with the review, a disclaimer: Jaymi Heimbuch, who I've been working with every day for many years and who I think is one of the coolest people on this planet, has contributed the text portion of this book. And while I don't know Rebecca Jackrel personally, I've been hearing only good things about her for years.
Does that make me biased? Well, maybe... But to compensate, I've tried to stay very aware of the situation and did my best to remain as objective as possible. I also conducted an interesting experiment: I sat down with my wife and showed her The Ethiopian Wolf, and while she was looking at the book, I was secretly looking at her reactions to see how someone who doesn't know the people involved with the book would react.
Her first comment was that the book looked really nice (it does! My photos don't do it justice. more details on the printing below, for you photography geeks out there). But what really struck me is that every time she flipped a page, she would go "ooooh" and "aaaah" at the photos, or sometimes laugh at the funny ones (there's a shot of a Giant Mole-rate that is particularly hilarious).
But even better: The photos are so good and so intriguing that on pretty much every page she read the descriptions to learn more, or or she discussed something that caught her attention. I think that's the real test for a book of this type. Are you not only enjoying the photos, but also seeing thought-provoking things that make you want to learn more about the topic covered. On that front, The Ethiopian Wolf is a great success. Effortlessly educational, in other words.
The first thing you'll notice when you get the book is that it's huge, which is a great thing because the photos are great. My measuring tape tells me that when open, it's 29 inches wide and 11 inches high. Truly panoramic!
As you can see in the photo above, some pages are more text-heavy while others (see below) are huge two-page photographs that you just get lost in, daydreaming.
In The Ethiopian Wolf, there's a really good balance between the Ethiopian wolves and their natural habitat, and the conservation efforts to save them. If you get the book for the pretty pictures, you won't be disappointed, and if you get it to learn more about what's being done to save the species, you won't be disappointed either.
There's a whole section of the book (Folio 3) dedicated to other species living in the same area as the Ethiopian wolf, and a section dedicated just to conservation efforts. It's all well organized, and there's enough variety to keep your attention all the way through.
Not only is the book supporting a great endeavor with its content, but the physical book itself also shows great sensitivity. The paper used is FSC-certified, the inks used are soy-based and low-VOC ("While not 100% biodegradable, soy inks degrade 4 times more completely than traditional petroleum based inks and it is far easier to scrub from paper for recycling than petroleum based ink - though we hope that people will cherish the book and not want to recycle it! A big benefit to us is that soy inks create a sharper, brighter image so the images in our book really pop with no more than a 3% shift in color from book to book," writes Rebecca Jackrel, one of the authors). Even the book cover is "faux cloth" made from 100% recyclable FSC paper!
Above you can see the book's photographers, Rebecca R. Jackrel and Will Burrard-Lucas. Kudos to them, great work! It must not have been easy to get all these shots in such a remote corner of the world.
There's a great quote by Jacques-Yves Cousteau in the book: "People protect what they love." This book will make you love not only the Ethiopian wolf, but hopefully nature as a whole too!
Buy it here: The Ethiopian Wolf book.
Note that 50% of profits from every book sale will be donated to the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme.
If you want to learn more, the Ethiopian Wolf Project website is a great source of info!