Few and Far Between

By Charlie Elder | Bloomsbury Publishing | Hardback | April 2015 | 288 Pages | 16 Colour Plates | ISBN: 9781472905185

The Publisher’s View: Seeking the beautiful, the breath-taking and the bizarre, Charlie Elder goes in search of Britain’s rarest and most endangered animals. Travelling the length and breadth of the UK, and meeting up with experts along the way, he tracks down secretive and scarce mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects living on the brink, ranging from the iconic Scottish wildcat and surreal spiny seahorse to the striking golden oriole, outlandish wart-biter cricket and sinister black rat. Few and Far Between celebrates the diversity on our doorstep and highlights the natural treasures we risk losing.

The Author: Charlie Elder is a journalist. For more than two decades he has worked for papers ranging from the Times of Tonga in the South Pacific to the Telegraph and the Evening Standard. He is now chief sub-editor on the Evening Herald in Plymouth. He lives with his wife and two daughters on the edge of Dartmoor.

Fatbirder View: I was looking forward to this book having enjoyed his well known ‘While Flocks Last’ and could hardly believe that was published six years ago.Like that this could be described as a device to bring our collective attention to the plight of the wild world in the face of humankind’s ‘progress’. It makes sense to have widened the brief, just like the RSPB to all of nature as our task is to preserve the entire environment… you cannot understand scarce and under-threat species without putting them into their ecological context.I guess that being a journalist Charlie Elder is equipped to keep the touch light and to engage our interest by making this a personal and very human journey that still highlights the plight of so much that we must fight to preserve. So it is engaging, as is the ‘chase’ as we all like the thrill of a pursuit and the satisfaction of success. Having said that I do not feel I know a great deal more about why so many species are hanging by a thread or how we can reverse the trends, than I did before.One thing I am not at all enamoured of is the cover illustration and the motif used for each new chapter, neither add anything and do not really reflect the book contents.. I would also have liked chapter headings that make the chapter content apparent rather than having to go to an index to find which species are mentioned and where they might be.. I was entertained, marginally educated but not really fired up by the book, but I wish it every success.

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