ENDANGERED FOREST ANIMALS
Reviewed by Peter Croskery
Reviewed by Peter Croskery
Volume 20 Number 5
Among natural history topics, endangered species is one of the most commonly written about. And whenever a new text on subject appears, it should be compared to the others. The four books in this series would rank in the bottom half of the comparative list.
The four books of this series take a habitat approach to reviewing endangered species. As the titles would suggest the habitats reviewed are wetlands, forests, mountains and grasslands. For each habitat type, the author has selected a number of species to profile that are most commonly associated with that habitat.
For many species it is the loss of their habitat that is the basis for the species' being in trouble. However, the author spends little time on specific habitat problems, preferring to list species under stress instead.
There are a number of serious problems with these books. First not one book clearly distinguishes between the concepts of endangered, threatened and rare. (It is not acceptable to define threatened as "endangered in some areas where they live.") Perhaps the author is unaware of the hierarchy of the endangered species classification.
Secondly, there is no definition of where the "endangered" status was obtained. For example, White Pelican is profiled in Endangered Wetland Animals, yet to the best of my knowledge it is no longer endangered in Ontario and never was in Canada or the U.S. In Endangered Forest Animals, the Gray Wolf is listed as endangered. Some wolf species are classified as endangered in the U.S., but not in Canada. An important point to be made is the political element in listing species; sometimes, one jurisdiction provides protected status for its dwindling population while a neighbouring country supports a healthy population of the same species.
Even though these books are intended for a junior audience, the content is weak. As mentioned previously, distinctions between endangered, threatened and rare are lacking. The book on wetlands fails to point out the different wetland types, an important issue throughout North America as wetlands continue to disappear. And many of the habitat problems are glossed over. To blame the logging interests as the prime culprit in loss of habitat is an oversimplification and perpetuation of misinformation.
On a positive note, most of Taylor's photos are good quality.
For an educator wishing to work with children on endangered species biology, these books would be of little use. The best endangered species material is still the World Wildlife Fund's Operation Lifeline material.
Peter Croskery is a freelance writer and former biologist in Grimsby, Ontario>
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