‘Catch Me a Colobus’ is a brilliantly written book which lays a great deal of emphasis on conservation of flora and fauna. This Gerald Durrell book consists of ten elaborate and eloquent chapters. All of them are based on true-life incidents in the life of the popular conservationist, naturalist and writer.
After one reads this book he or she will agree that zoos are not a cruel concept as long as they are maintained properly and guidelines are followed. They are in fact the last refuge for critically endangered species. Many unheard of species would have been completely obliterated if not for the yeoman efforts of men like Durrell. Some of these include the North American buffalo, the Saiga antelope, the volcano rabbit, the Pere David’s deer, the Przewalski’s horse to name just a few.
‘Digging up Popocatepetl’, a chapter describing the author’s expedition to Mexico to collect and breed volcano rabbits, thick-billed parrots, horned guans and quetzals is one of the most absorbing narrations in the book.
‘Leopards in the Lavatory’, ‘Catch Me a Colobus’, and ‘Keep Me a Colobus’ detail the author’s arduous expedition to West Africa to collect exotic species like the Colobus monkeys and are very interesting.
The death of many animals in Durrell’s zoo in spite of the best efforts of the staff and veterinarians will give you the goose bumps. You’ll know why maintaining a zoo can be quite a trying and back-breaking job. Durrell couldn’t afford to take a break in spite of breaking a couple of ribs during the African expedition!
To save what is left of our precious flora and fauna from extinction we need more Gerald Durrells. This book is an eye-opener! Do read it.
“The second species was the Passenger pigeon, and it was probably the most numerous species of bird that has ever been or ever will be in existence in the world. Flocks of them estimated at two billion used to darken the skies. The weight of their numbers perching in trees could break off quite large branches. It was impossible, everyone thought, that Passenger pigeon (so delicious to eat and so plentiful) could ever be exterminated. And so they killed and killed; they shot the parent birds, they robbed the nests of the eggs and young. In 1869, seven and a half million birds were captured in one spot. In 1879 a billion birds were captured in the state of Michigan. This because it was ‘impossible’ to exterminate the Passenger pigeon. It was too numerous. It bred too well.
The last Passenger pigeon in the world died in the Cincinnati zoo in 1914 …”