Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine


Last Chance to See


Adams narrates his adventures travelling the globe with an experienced Zoologist, Carwardine, to see first hand the plight of several seriously endangered species. ‘Seriously’? Well, as he points out in his ‘rare or medium rare’ chapter, one ecologist might panic about there only being hundreds of one species left – but that’s the dream of another ecologist working to save a species with only fifteen: ‘Hundreds is common’.


I suppose there’s some level of compassion-fatigue with endangered species – I was not surprised at the content of most of this book, much as I’m a little dismayed that I’m not more dismayed (if you know what I mean).


Adams, as you might have picked up if you’ve read any of his books, isn’t too bad at this writing thingy, and the prose is engaging, amusing and occasionally insightful. Adams is good company, he’s not preachy or condescending, doesn’t claim to have all the answers, and describes what he sees without forcing it into some brutal agenda.


To be honest, my greatest pleasure in the book was not being informed – I’m sure you could find out this and more detailed information from other sources – it was in being informed by this particular narrator. I particularly enjoyed his presentation of some of the wonderful boffins in the field, particularly the Australian poisons expert – hilarious. Towards the latter part of the book I found some of these portraits more obviously contrived (and somehow the birds failed to interest as much as the earlier beasts).


That being said, there’s enough fascinating people, places and fauna throughout – plus Adams’ quirky perspectives, friendly company, consistent wit and occasional comic triumphs to recommend the read.


November 2004