Before I begin the main meat of this post, I wanted to comment on how much I enjoyed the descriptions that the author had in this book. There was something very ‘western’ in the descriptions and it made me want to go off to Zion National Park by myself for a year and just look around at the features. Anyways, onto my actual thoughts on the book.
While I listened to my audio copy of this book, I couldn’t help but think of Thoreau’s Walden book. In that book and this book, both mean go off into the wilderness for long periods of time to absorb the landscapes around them that are free from widespread human influence. Both men found distinct beauties in the nature around them and they both tried to steer clear of personification of the animals around them, although their writing of these events still have personification in it (see Abbey’s description of the juniper tree in chapter 5 or Thoreau’s battle in his bean field in Walden). They could also be very critical of human’s actions towards nature. Abbey’s description of how the Wildlife Reserve people would hunt the mountain lions and coyotes near extinction was just dripping with negativity and disappointment. He also makes sure to point out how those actions have created an entirely new problem with the new abundance of porcupines.
Abbey is making many of the same descriptions and arguments that prolific writers in environmentalism have written, yet his is from a more tense position. He works for the Arches National Monuments, he’s not just staying there as a tourist or to defy the status quo. He has a commitment to uphold his job and the people he works for. He has a duty to take care of the park and preserve it which may influence his view of the park. This is not to say Abbey’s view of the park is disingenuous, but many of the other environmentalist writers I have read about are there under there own will or have said negative things about our countries obsession of holding wilderness areas on a pedestal by making them parks. Abbey cannot do that or if he does believe what other environmentalists have said, he isn’t vocal on the subject.
Here is some good news for wildlife for a change. An African wolf called the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) which has been in danger of extinction could be saved through rabies vaccinations. While rabies have been nearly eradicated in North America and Europe, many African wildlife still suffers from the disease. Immunization efforts in African countries rarely succeed due to the large amount of feral dogs which can be hard to track down. However, with a lot of research on the Ethiopian wolves, particularly on their diets, the vaccine can be administered to them relatively easily. Even vaccinating half of the wolf population could save the entire species. (Source)