An account of the East African Game Departments is told through the eyes and memories of Game Wardens who have each written of their experiences with the Department during the last half of the twentieth century. Tragedy, farce and hardship are mixed in equal measure with a real concern for the animals well-being, as well as helping the indigenous population to co-exist with Africa’s greatest asset. How do you remove a pride of lions from downtown Nairobi? What do you do when a buffalo ‘explodes’ out of a bush in front of you? From early experiments in darting and re-locating animals, to combating the insidious activities of the ivory poachers, these men ‘tell it how it was’ in a down-to-earth fashion without need of embellishment.
Few people realise that conservation of wild life in Africa is far from being a modern ‘Green’ phenomena. In fact, the Dutch introduced stringent game laws as far back as 1642 and conservation has hardly been off the agenda ever since.
The 1950’s and 60’s were a period of great activity, trauma and achievement, against the political background of Africa, changed by independence and the movement of people. Much legal meat had been taken for food during the war and now the strain placed on the animals, especially elephants for their ivory, seems at times overwhelming. Under-staffed, under-funded and largely untrained, the game wardens continue to fight against bureaucracy to establish a safe haven where man and animal can share an equal footing.
An Impossible Dream it may be; but the determination and dedication of these men continues to preserve the game parks for future generations against all the odds. It is a fascinating and unique history told with humour and honesty.
Critical acclaim for An Impossible Dream
What is most refreshing about all these recollections is the underlying honesty with which they are offered. This candor is evident throughout – in the accounts and reflections of the Editors as well as those of the various contributors.
This book is dedicated, “to a Pleistocene Africa, which we so enjoyed and sought to preserve, but which is gone. It was an impossible dream.” But despite this gloomy pronouncement former Kenyan Game Wardens Ian Parker and Stan Bleazard have done a great job in compiling and annotating the reminiscences of fifteen of their contemporaries in the Kenya game Department in the closing years of British rule.
(BBC Wildlife Magazine)