Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wildlife Maps

Earth Science

The book below was reported on in September by retired William and Mary anthropologist, Barbara J. King.  She is one of my very favorite NPR commentators.  King opened her column/radio report with a question. "Have you spent quiet time poring over a set of maps? Maybe halfway around the world that you've always wanted to visit--or even the mountains or coastlines of your home area? Maps transport us. They 'make the landscape fit indoors, make us masters of sights we can't the word of Robert Harbison...."

The book was recently published in the U. S. and makes the "monumental journeys taken by wild animals fit indoors...." The  title is  Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti. I thought of Where the Wild Things Are, a glorious book of a different stripe!  The aim of Cheshire and Uberti is to connect people to the lives and intentional choices of individual animals.  We see individuality in our pets; it's much harder to see in the wild. As a result, to some, elk in Yellowstone or baboons in Kenya may seem like furry robots following a predetermined...loop."

You can all think of exceptions, mostly professionals, who see wild animals as individuals. Several came to my mind: Jane Goodall (chimpanzees), the wife-husband team Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth (baboons), David Mech (wolves, and Doug Peacock (grizzly bears).  An important value of this book is "in terms of geographic needs, the point to stress is that to protect animals, we must protect where they go." This is all too easily forgotten or neglected or.... Consider, for example, monarch butterflies.

Here you can learn more about the book and see a few maps--seals, baboons (early in her career, King studied baboons in Kenya), albatrosses, jaguars, warblers and crocodiles. I wish the map for the elk of Yellowstone was included. One member of the Cody herd is highlighted and it is tantalizing. She is #35342. King devotes a few paragraphs to her and her calf. "We may trace her route with our fingers as well as our eyes...."

And along the way imagine richly, wonder, raise questions....

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