Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Song of the Dodo

David Quammen's book "The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction", is previewed over at Google Books, and features the pages that introduce Mauritius Kestrel conservationist Carl Jones into the story. Carl Jones featured in both the Last Chance To See book and also in the Rodrigues Fruitbat Radio Episode which is now available for streaming from the BBC Last Chance To See website.
Carl Jones is a tall, sarcastic Welshman with a sheepdog haircut, a weakness for bad jokes, and a manic devotion to native Mauritian wildlife, especially the birds. His reputation carries far beyond south-western Mauritius, but I've only just met him, and I hardly know what to expect. I know that he has lived on the island a dozen years. I know that he runs a bird-rescue project in the vicinity of Riviere Noire, near the mouth of a system of steep valleys and igneous cliffs called (at least by the English speakers in this polyglot culture) the Black River Gorges. I know that the Black River Gorges contain small, precious remnants of forest, enclaves of wild landscape amid the sugar cane and the urban sprawl and the beach-tourism development that carpet modern Mauritius. I know that one focus of Jones's efforts has been the severely endangered falcon, the Mauritius kestrel, which stood just a sneeze from extinction then Jones first arrived. And I know that Jones, though trained as a scientist, retains the admirable passion and zeal of an adolescent pigeon fancier.
The full version of the book is available at both and

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