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Global Safari - James Parry

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IF YOU fancy a trip round the world visiting great wildlife destinations without leaving the comfort of home, then Global Safari is the book for you. And if you’re one of the lucky few who have “been there, done that and got the baseball cap”, it will provide a wealth of memories.

Divided into six geographical sections – Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia, North America, and Latin America and Antarctica – Global Safari not only pays tribute to the beauty and diversity of the natural world, it also addresses important issues such as the impact of climate change.

Sadly, the outlook for some of the featured species is bleak. Polar bears and tigers, for instance, face an uncertain future as global warming and man’s intrusion destroy their natural habitat. And both, it seems, are victims of illegal hunting.

Here, thanks to some superb photography, we see these magnificent creatures as they should be – in the wild. I particularly like the close-up shot of a male polar bear, so life-like you can see individual hairs on its lower jaw. Not so appealing, however, is the equally life-like adult green tree python!

With images of such high quality, it should come as no surprise to learn that they’re the work of top wildlife photographers, among them Galen Rowell, Frans Lanting, Thomas Mangelsen, Vincent Munier, Andy Rouse, Jonathan and Angela Scott, and Anup Shah. And as well as three gatefolds (beware, there’s a reticulated python hiding in one), many come as full or double page spreads.

However, as each image is captioned, I do find it rather odd that the photo credits are listed together at the back of the book, almost as an afterthought, providing the reader with an unnecessary obstacle to negotiate.

That said, the text from James Parry, author of several books on natural history and landscape, offers a wealth of information. For example, did you know that the nomadic elephants of Mali travel up to 750 miles in a year and sometimes as much as 30 miles in a single day? Or that Orang-utans are the slowest breeding of all primates? Just one of the contributary factors in their decline.

With an introduction by TV wildlife presenter, Charlotte Uhlenbroek, Global Safari does exactly as its title suggests – it journeys from the pack ice of the Arctic to the rainforests of Brazil, from the deserts of Namibia to the wetlands of Florida; along the way encountering not only the world’s lowliest creatures but also the planet’s most exciting wildlife spectacles, such as the winter gathering of over 400 million Monarch butterflies in the highlands of central Mexico.

All of which makes Global Safari a lovely book. And if it alerts us to the fragility of the world’s ecosystems, then so much the better.