Tigers in Red Weather: A Quest For The Last Wild Tigers
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Tigers in Red Weather: A Quest For The Last Wild Tigers

5.0 3
by Ruth Padel
     
 

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Poet, writer, and descendant of Charles Darwin, Ruth Padel set out to visit a tropical jungle and wildlife sanctuary in India-- and her visit turned into a remarkable two-year journey through eleven countries in search of that most elusive and most beautiful animal: the tiger. Armed with her grandmother's opera glasses and Tunisian running shoes, she set off

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Overview

Poet, writer, and descendant of Charles Darwin, Ruth Padel set out to visit a tropical jungle and wildlife sanctuary in India-- and her visit turned into a remarkable two-year journey through eleven countries in search of that most elusive and most beautiful animal: the tiger. Armed with her grandmother's opera glasses and Tunisian running shoes, she set off across Asia to ask the question: can the tiger be saved from extinction in the wild?
Tigers are an "umbrella species", they need everything in the forest to work in tandem: they eat deer, the deer need vegetation, the vegetation has to be pollinated by birds, mammals, rodents and butterflies. If you save the tiger, you save everything else. Today, the 5,000 tigers that still survive in the wild live only in Asia and are scattered throughout 14 countries. Padel says that while tigers will never become extinct—they are too popular for that—they may disappear from the wild. There are as many tigers in cages in the US as there are surviving tigers in the wild.
As she travels she meets the defenders of the wild—the heroic scientists, forest guards and conservationists at the frontline, fighting to save tigers and their forests from destruction in the places where poverty threatens to wipe out all wildlife. She also examines her fascination (both as a poet and as the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin) with nature, wildness and survival and in the end, becomes a knowledgeable advocate for the tiger. The result is a beautiful blend of natural history, travel literature and memoir, and a searing, intimate portrait of an animal we have loved and feared almost to extinction.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A remarkable chronicle of a two-year trek across 11 countries to visit wild tigers and observe conservation programs…The author provides a plethora of facts and figures about the tigers' plight, reminding us in luminous prose and by evoking the animals and the landscapes they inhabit why this world is worth saving…Best savored slowly; a skillful blend of natural history and political analysis, sure to incite controversy in conservation circles.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“For the readers who follow along on her two-year journey through 11 countries, the blend of imagery and observation, heartbreak and conservation can be…as promising as a glimpse of tawny fur spied through jungle foliage.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Like her ancestor Charles Darwin, British poet Ruth Padel turns to the natural world to make sense of her own humanity. Instead of licking her wounds at the end of a five-year relationship, Padel ventured to India, Tibet, and beyond in search of the elusive, nearly extinct tiger, whose power and mystery, in works by Borges, Blake, and others, had long compelled her. "You cannot plan to see a tiger: It is like planning to fall in love," she writes in Tigers in Red Weather (Walker), a stunning plea for conservation and a stealthy excursion into the human heart.” —O magazine

“Splendid….There is fine and illuminating writing here. The prologue's description of a teenage male tiger about to embark on a largely solitary life is a short, spine-tingling triumph. Her simple descriptions of the interconnectedness of life are a model for any nature writer….There is grand heroism in her search for the metaphysical links with the wild, heroism that sometimes reminded me of Songlines, Bruce Chatwin's account of his journey among the aboriginals of Australia. Padel's book is one that I am unlikely to forget.” —Conservation magazine

“The tiger is a creature of danger and dreams, of wilderness and beauty. Yet every country has betrayed the tiger with greed, negligence, and denial. Ruth Padel went on an inner and outer journey through the tiger's realm to report on the cat's vulnerability. With a sense of history and a sense of life she entered shadowed forests and met the tiger's dedicated protectors. She honors this vital symbol of the natural world with the voice of science and of a passionate poet. Tigers in Red Weather is the most entrancing book on tigers that I have read, vibrant, lyrical, and sad yet in the end with a spark of hope.” —George Schaller, Science Director of International Programs for the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, National Book Award winner (1973)

“A beautifully strange and personal travel book, one that might bring Joan Didion or Bruce Chatwin to mind, a book about love and survival that reads like a well-tuned poem. Ruth Padel has never written better, and that's saying something.” —Colm Toibin

Tigers In Read Weather describes an extraordinary quest for the tiger in its forest home and in the human imagination. Padel is not a descendant of Charles Darwin for nothing. Her curiosity is daring and rigorous, her language eloquent. This is not only a superb portrait of Asian tiger country; but also of the fears and longings that the tiger creates in human hearts.” —Helen Dunmore

“With shock, despair, and urgency it zeroes in on the greatest wildlife tragedy and scandal of our times: the tiger's last-ditch batter for survival in the wild. Here are passionate, brutally honest dispatches from that struggle's blood-soaked frontlines.” —Mark Shand

“The beautiful writing style of an award-winning poet, tons of research and that oddly elusive commodity--emotion--makes this the travelogue of the year.” —Sunday Times

“A work of moving originality and enchantment” —Colin Thubron

Publishers Weekly
Padel's memoir of her trips to various parts of the Eastern hemisphere to spot tigers in the wild begins with a string of personal setbacks at home in London, including the dissolution of a long romantic relationship. Although her thoughts return intermittently to this man and his stereotypically insensitive behavior after their breakup, the attempt to inject an emotional undercurrent into the story of her travels is distracting. Fortunately, more of her tale shows a poet's eye for the details of her exotic surroundings and a deep sympathy with the people who serve as her guides (Padel is a poet and chair of U.K.'s Poetry Society; her title is taken from a Wallace Stevens poem). As she hangs out with the scientists and other conservators who work at tiger reserves throughout the Indian subcontinent and Asia, Padel slowly learns that keeping the great beasts from extinction is not a clear-cut issue, as preservationists must also take into account the impact of tiger populations on neighboring communities. "How can you sympathize with tigers when you haven't enough to eat?" she wonders. The indifference of some governments to illegal poaching adds increased difficulties, but despite the many reasons to be pessimistic, Padel still manages to find cause for hope, passing on the names of tiger-focused charities for concerned readers' donations. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
There are perhaps 5000 tigers still living in the wilds of 14 Asian countries, and the number is rapidly declining owing to shrinking habitat, poaching, mismanagement, greed, and belief in the medicinal power of tiger body parts. The latter is frequently ascribed to the Chinese by British poet Padel in this exhaustive and impassioned account of her travels to see firsthand the sorry state of tiger preservation. She visits India, Bangladesh, Russia, China, Laos, and Indonesia and talks with numerous authorities over a period of two years, entering wildlife preserves in the hopes of at least getting a glimpse of tigers in their wild state. She discusses tiger lore and history as well as the other animals and vegetation necessary for tigers' survival and takes on the complicated topics of tiger breeding and the needs of people who live in and near tiger habitat. As her title suggests, Patel is pessimistic about the tiger's future, and the reader ends up sharing her anger and sadness. While occasional digressions about personal relationships with family and friends can be distracting, this is a good choice for libraries seeking one book on the plight of tigers worldwide.-Harold M. Otness, formerly of Southern Oregon Univ. Lib., Ashland Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From award-winning poet and Darwin descendant Padel, a remarkable chronicle of a two-year trek across 11 countries to visit wild tigers and observe conservation programs. Possibly 5,000 of the big cats remain in the wild. The author first journeyed to India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, where she learned of man-eating (rare except where prey is nonexistent) and salt-water-drinking tigers. It will come as no surprise to readers to learn that, as Padel discovered in India, successful conservation programs are those that allow local populations to benefit from tiger tourism. In the northern region of Ranthambhore, for instance, villagers ceded land to a tiger reserve in exchange for new fields, a temple and a school. The author went next to Russia. Although the Amur River bounds the largest continuous habitat of wild tigers in the world, poaching and logging endanger populations there just as they do elsewhere. In China, the cradle of tiger evolution, no South China tigers have been seen by officials in 20 years. Padel continued south, to Laos and Vietnam, where she discovered even less protection and very small populations beset by corruption and a lack of interest in conservation as well as the usual dangers of poaching and logging. The author provides a plethora of facts and figures about the tigers' plight, reminding us in luminous prose and by evoking the animals and the landscapes they inhabit why this wild world is worth saving: "The red trail shines with puddles, trunks are roan pillars against black velvet, rain is soft Morse on the canopy." In her conclusion, Padel looks to India for hope. "It saved tigers once," she writes. "Can't it do it again?"Best savored slowly: a skillfulblend of natural history and political analysis, sure to incite controversy in conservation circles.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802715449
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
09/19/2006
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
6.45(w) x 9.47(h) x 1.43(d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Padel is a scholar and poet. Several of her books have been short-listed for the Whitbread and T.S. Eliot Prizes. She is chair of the UK's Poetry Society, and a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and of the Zoological Society of London.

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