Friday 23 October 2015

Counting Lions: Portraits from the Wild

Counting Lions: Portraits from the Wild by Katie Cotton, drawings by Stephen Walton (Walker Books)
HC RRP $27.95
ISBN 9781847807212

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

With a moving Foreword by actress and staunch wildlife crusader Virginia McKenna, this magnificent counting book goes from one to ten. The operative word here is numbers, and that word demands attention be given to the declining numbers of animal species around the world. Whether it’s for trophy hunting, souvenirs of their animal parts, or their capture for pet shop trade (and the list goes on), an increasing number of wild animals and birds are being killed each year for financial gain. Man fails to see their importance in ‘the creation and protection of the natural world.’

The stunning black and white drawings speak volumes. The orange text informs and educates.

The expression on the lion’s face will cause an emotional shift in the reader. Mother and child gorillas ‘breathe the same breath’ and the two now together, will soon become singular entities. The three giraffes are such peaceful animals. With their head in the clouds they can see forever as they traverse the grasslands.

Four tigers: a mother and her cubs. She will sacrifice everything to protect them. But can she protect them from hunters and poachers? Five elephants wander together on an endless journey towards food and water.  Six Ethiopian wolves stay within their boundaries, safe but not. Seven penguins make a family of parents and children in the frozen Antarctic environment. Eight turtles, who know the water better than anyone, return to the place of their birth to lay their eggs in the sand.

Nine macaws discuss their day, ready to spread their wings if necessary. Ten zebras drink at a waterhole. Their eyes and ears ever alert for the dangers that lurk just beyond their sight and hearing.

The end of the book has miniature pictures of each animal accompanied by their protection status and approximately ten lines of information about their family groups, size, and other statistics on them.

These magnificent drawings are not for children alone to adore. This book is for coffee tables; to generate thought-provoking discussion about these and other endangered animals, and to bring about changes in human thought about who and what we really are.

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