Ark On The Move – Wildlife Conservation Efforts Madagascar And Mauritius.

In this month’s book review segment we take a look at Ark on the Move, an autobiographical work from the eminent British naturalist, Gerald Malcolm Durrell, which beautifully narrates the wildlife conservation efforts in the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius while bringing the reader acquainted with the concepts of captive breeding for rescuing endangered species.

Gerald Durrell – A true hero

Gerald Durrell [Photo Source]

Gerald Durrell, the British naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author and television presenter, is famous for his captivating books like 'My Family and Other Animals’, ‘Birds, Beasts, and Relatives’, 'A Zoo in My Luggage' and 'The Drunken Forest'. His style of narration is immensely satisfying and his works are quiet popular among children. The level of detailing and the amount of warm humor that Durrell invests into his narrations while retelling his fascinating encounters with the animal and natural world makes his books brilliant reading material for young readers.

Gerald Durrell, who was born on 7 January, 1925, in Jamshedpur, in former British India, was renowned for his love for animals from a young age. His lifetime association with animals led to the foundation of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Durrell Wildlife Park on the Channel Island of Jersey in 1959.

Jersey Zoo (formerly Durrell Wildlife Park), founded by Durrell in 1959, concentrates mainly in rare and endangered species and is home to many conservation programs. [Photo Source]

Gerald Durrell inspired humankind with his lifetime crusade for the conservation of the natural life on our planet, and for this he can be regarded as a true hero. Durrell passed away on 30 January, 1995 at the age of 70.

Ark on the Move – A description of the rescue efforts at the ‘treasure-house of unique forms of life’

Ark on the Move is a hilarious and captivating narration of Durrell’s experiences during wildlife conservation efforts at the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius. Durrell and his team of scientists and TV crew traces endangered plant and animal life in Mauritius, Rodrigues Island and Round Island in the Mascarenes and Madagascar while inspecting the results of previous efforts of rescue and breeding operations and collecting new specimens for captive breeding. It also chillingly narrates how the ecosystem and indigenous plant and animal life of the Islands are being wiped off due to the ill treatment of nature by human beings.

Published in 1982, the book gives the reader insights in to the natural history and the unique flora & fauna found on Madagascar & Mauritius islands while describing the challenges faced by the delicate ecosystem of the islands and the wildlife conservation efforts, which are being implemented to rescue this ‘treasure-house of unique forms of life’.

By associating with the Mauritian Government, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust had previously established many conservation colonies for indigenous animals within the Islands and in the Trust’s facility in Jersey and through this book Durrell let the reader have a first-hand view of the results of these rescue operations.

The impact of the rescue efforts by Durrell and his team

Let's take a look at the impact of some of the rescue efforts that Durrell initiated in the 80s in these Islands from the current perspective.

The Indri, one of the largest living lemurs native to Madagascar, are still critically endangered due to the continuing habitat destruction and fragmentation through deforestation and hunting.

The indri, also called the babakoto, is one of the largest living lemurs. [Photo Source]

The Rodrigues flying fox or Rodrigues fruit bat, which is endemic to Rodrigues, was another critically endangered species in the wild due to human intervention and storm damage. Even though they are still in the brink of extinction on the wild, the captive breeding efforts of the Durrell trust has successfully resulted in having healthy colonies of bats in several zoos around the globe.

Rodrigues fruit bats roost in large groups during the day and feed at night, squeezing the juice and flesh out of fruits. They are hunted by humans for food. [Photo Source]

The Pink Pigeon - the only Mascarene pigeon that has not gone extinct - was once on the brink of extinction with a population of only 10 birds left due to habitat destruction and threats from nonnative predators. But the efforts of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust with its aviaries in Jersey and Black River, Mauritius have succeeded in raising the population to about 500.

A Pink Pigeon at San Diego Zoo. [Photo Source]

Even after ardent rescue efforts and conservation many of the critically endangered animals and plant life in the Madagascar and Mauritius are in the brink of doom as deforestation and human intrusion continues and the descriptions of them from Durrell can really move the reader.

The enchanting manner in which Durrell educates the reader about the delicate balance of this Island paradise’s ecosystem; it’s magical natural world teeming with an array of curious, charming animals and the importance of preserving them make 'Ark on the Move' a book worth reading for all nature lovers.