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Horn of Darkness: Rhinos on the Edge

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The black rhino is nature's tank, feared by all animals, even lions. And yet the black rhino is on the edge of extinction, its numbers dwindling from 100,000 at the turn of the century, to less than 2,500 today. The reason is that in places like Yemen, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, the rhino's horn is more treasured than gold, so valuable that people will risk their lives to harvest it. To deter rhino poachers, African governments have spent millions - on helicopters, paramilitary operations, fences, and guard dogs, even relocation to protected areas. Finally, three African countries tried a radical strategy - cutting the horns. The rationale is simple. If a rhino has no horns, the incentive to kill it should disappear. What has since unfolded is a biological and political drama. In Horn of Darkness, Carol Cunningham and Joel Berger describe their passionate quest to help conserve Africa's black rhinos. Arriving in fiercely independent Namibia, the authors begin to study how horns are involved in the lives of rhinos. Writing alternate chapters, Carol and Joel tell the story of three years in the remote Namib Desert and capture what it is like to experience life in the remaining wilds of Africa. Horn of Darkness blends natural history and biology, adventure and adrenaline, Africans and local attitudes. It also reveals a clear sense of the careful, patient work involved in studying animals, the frustration of long days searching for them, and the realities of coping with extreme temperatures and a nomadic lifestyle.

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Mehr von Cunningham, Carol (Department of Environmental and Resource Studies, Department of Environmental and Resource Studies, University of Nevada, Reno)