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The Impossible Five:
In Search of South Africa's Most Elusive Mammals
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Most people have heard of the Big Five of safari hunting but it turns out that finding 4 out of 5 of them is as easy as coming across a red double decker bus in London. So what if you fancy a bit more of a challenge? How about trying to find five of the most elusive and rare animals in Africa?
This is the task Justin sets himself to achieving. We have a Leopard and Lion on the list, so far so Africa, then an Aardvark, Pangolin and a rabbit. Yep, who would have known that the Riverine Rabbit is actually one of the most endangered critters on the continent?
Before anyone fancies following in his footsteps be aware that you will have a LOT of fruitless driving around to do in the depth of night and it may take the best part of 3 years before you complete your quest.
Frustrating no shows of animals aside, this is an entertaining account of just how tricky some of these beasts can be. Justin is passionate about his subject and the range of wildlife fanatics he enlists along the way even more so. If you fancy some virtual sifting of poo or meditation with lions this book will be right up your alley. In fact, anyone with a passing interest in nature will find it very entertaining. There were a couple of passages where Justin disappears into a slightly surreal dream world but otherwise this is a book that bounces along with a decent dollop of humour and fun.
The message I took from it at the end though is that we all need to remember the balance of nature against "progress". Farming has destroyed a number of habitats and the ever present hunters are a continuing threat to many species (the more rare the more prized). It is a bit of a wake up call to the fact that things need to change if we are to retain some of these endangered species and that we need to consider the wider world sometimes.
It's not preachy though and doesn't take itself too seriously. With a nice section of colour photos in the middle it made for a great opportunity to "see" some creatures I really knew little/nothing about.