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Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of A Conservation Icon: The Life and Loves of the World's Most Famous Tortoise (Macmillan Science)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of A Conservation Icon: The Life and Loves of the World's Most Famous Tortoise (Macmillan Science).pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Henry Nicholls(Author)

    Book details

One tortoise's tale of conservation, commerce, cloning, combat and collecting on the high seas

"Like the best human-focused biographers, Nicholls uses his unusual subject as a springboard into more universal territory. He aptly portrays Lonesome George as a sort of reptilian Forrest Gump, an unwitting bystander continually thrust to the forefront as society's defining crises play themselves out around him."--"Wired""" "This marvellous look at the conservation of nature, as embodied in one enormous reptile, is highly recommended."--Nancy Bent, "Booklist""" "Is he gay, impotent or just bored? Read this fascinating book for the full story. It skilfully blends historical derring-do with cutting-edge conservation biology."--"NewScientist""Told with real affection and humour...a fitting tribute to one of the voiceless victims of human progress."--"Guardian """ "A warmly enjoyable book...a pleasure to read." "Nicholls' lively tale takes the reader on a journey through the Galapagos - and how much there is to lose."--BBC Focus Magazine "This is a wonderful tale of an almost mythical beast. Rich in historical detail George's story is one of pathos, despair and hope with some quirky reproductive biology thrown in for good measure. Nicholls has done us all a service, reminding us of the fragility of life in general and of one very special chelonian in particular." -- Tim Birkhead, author of "Promiscuity "and "The Red Canary""" """Not simply the story of a tortoise but the tale of that icon of evolution, the Galapagos archipelago, and of the heroics and (sometimes) seeming futility of the conservation movement. The science is compelling, the tone is light - highly recommended."--Olivia Judson, "Seed Magazine""" "It is a cracking tale - and crackingly well told. It is also salutary. Giant tortoises are indeed extraordinary - but not as strange as human beings."--Colin Tudge, author of "The Secret Life of Trees""""If Darwin were alive today he would be fascinated by Henry Nicholls' splendid account of this solitary survivor from Pinta

4.2 (11104)
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Book details

  • PDF | 256 pages
  • Henry Nicholls(Author)
  • Palgrave; 2007 edition (2 Oct. 2007)
  • English
  • 4
  • Science & Nature

Read online or download a free book: Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of A Conservation Icon: The Life and Loves of the World's Most Famous Tortoise (Macmillan Science)


Review Text

  • By S. J. Berry on 4 June 2006

    Lonesome George is a giant tortoise. Not just any giant tortoise but possibly the last of his kind. He was discovered in 1971 on one of the Galapagos Islands, Pinta, where tortoises had been thought to be extinct. This is his story.Henry Nicholls' account of the George and the plight of giant tortoises in the Galapagos is rich in detail but at the same time light-hearted and compelling. The book not only chronicles George's capture, the efforts to find him a mate and the difficulty of obtaining sperm samples from a reluctant tortoise but also includes a fascinating introduction to the many issues that surround the science of conservation. It also provides insight into how scientists try to solve puzzles such as how tortoises got to the Galapagos islands in the first place and how to assess the potential risks of releasing cross-breed offspring into the wild.The way that the author can put forward many different theories without disrupting the flow is impressive. As a reader you will gladly follow a diversion to a discussion about a different species or how specimens are catalogued in the Natural History Museum and as such this book is much more than just a story about a tortoise. It manages to weave many major concepts of biology into the tale without feeling like a textbook: from Darwin, to DNA analysis, to cloning.George is not just a tortoise but also a conservation icon and this message is loud and clear throughout the book. He is an ambassador to remind us to think about what we are doing to the world, and does a very good job.

  • By J. P. Duffy on 11 June 2006

    I bought this after being recommeded it by a friend who'd been to the Galapagos and seen the subject of this book with his own eyes.It's a story which will interest anyone interested in conservation, the animal kingdom, our species' increasingly complex relationship with animals (and very importantly the 'idea' of animals). Oh, and of course tortoises.If you've ever enjoyed the essays of Stephen J Gould, the technique of taking a small detail and using it to expound a far bigger story with anecdotes and diversions along the way, this is for you.Nicholls takes us on a steady journey, never losing sight of his protagonist, but not shying from illuminating some of the more obscure (even obscene) corners of naturalism and conservation. all one can say is that there are some VERY passionate people out there protecting Earth's species!Never overly worthy, but thought-provoking, 'Lonesome George' leaves a slightly wistful, sad feeling of impending loss. Nicholls never resorts to easy solutions or black and white arguments about the future of this particular area of conservation.The style is supremely readable, and the all important science never over complicated, but equally never patronising.I had stopped reading books like this just when 'popular science' became ubiquitous. Works like this restore my faith in the genre, and I shall be looking for this author again.One suggestion: Make a TV series!

  • By M. Fowlie on 16 May 2006

    Lonesome George is a somewhat sad figure, spending his days in a research station, the last of his kind left on earth. Henry Nicholls tells us his story and his rise to 'poster boy' for the conservation movement. Written in such a way as to draw you in to the history behind the current events, Nicholls uses George to address the more general problems that conservationists face all over the planet. Never judgemental and never preaching, Nicholls tells us how it is, the problems we face and the possibilities available for the continuation of animals such as Lonesome George. Written in a highly readable style and often amusing, I found this book extremly informative and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone with an interest in history, conservation or just those that like a jolly good read.

  • By Dr. K. Sanderson on 4 May 2006

    Ecology and wildlife preservation have an aura of worthiness about them. Good people doing battle to save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and non-human, plant and animal. But often other battles are being fought.Take the sea-cucumber fishermen of the Galapagos islands. The fishermen's attitude to their environment - that the planet provides a source of support to be exploited - is entirely different to that of a conservationist. So when laws to restrict sea cucumber fishing hit the fishermen, they hit back at the conservationists - the foreigners.Their main target was Lonesome George, possibly the last surviving giant tortoise from Pinta, a remote island in the Galapagos archipelago. The threat from irate fishermen is just one facet of George's eventful story, as told by Henry Nicholls.Nicholls tells a complex ecological shaggy-dog story. And like all stories in that genre, this one leaves you feeling somewhat unsatisfied. Not by the storytelling, but by the plight of George. The future for the Pinta tortoise family is far from safe.Nicholls' recurring theme is Lonesome George as a conservation icon, and as the story of this remarkable beast's life pans out, the impact of humans on some of the world's most endangered species becomes a horrible recurring theme.Perhaps in an attempt to ease the sense of guilt, Nicholls wanders in and out of historical narrative. The book brings the reader face to face with Darwin when he was tramping the Galapagos in the mid-19th century, and dryly tells of one explorer who investigated whether tortoises could swim by consistently lobbing one over the side of his boat.The titillating tale of a female Swiss student trying to get a sperm sample from George, recounted with more than a hint of a raised eyebrow, is just one person's story out of many.Eased in between all these themes comes science for conservation. Cloning, DNA analysis, the consequences of inbreeding, and oceanography are all explained effortlessly.The survival of Pinta tortoises looks unlikely. By telling his story, and that of many other animals, Nicholls spells out that icons like Lonesome George are only thrust into the spotlight as a consequence of a number of ill informed human interventions. The story leaves an urgent hope that scientific advances and political policies can somehow help reverse some of the mistakes made in the past. Whether that happens in time for George to reproduce is anyone's guess.

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