Once in a while a book comes along that takes you by complete surprise, literally stops you in your tracks and takes over your life until you have completed its reading. Its tale then haunts your mind for days as you re-live its passages and reassess its meaning to yourself on a personal level. Such books are rare and normally crafted around fictional scenarios. Well that all just changed for me – the book in my hand was non-fictional and it was exploring the author’s personal experiences in a conservation David versus Goliath epic.
I had been unaware of the book until the book cover's photographer and friend, Eric Ash, mentioned it and in all honesty I was expecting a dry read to say the least. Conservation policy, international treaties, trade monitoring, not exactly riveting subject matter I thought. I was to be proven so wrong.
J.A. Mills has written an incredible account of her experiences, emotions, and work in the field of wildlife conservation policy that gives those of us not exposed to the inner workings of this field an incredible insight. She takes us on a journey, using her own life as the vehicle to set out the issues and intrigue of conservation politics, in particular the issues and policies at the heart of one nation’s demand for the body parts of tigers, bears, elephants and rhinos. She leaves no place for her pro-trade opponents to hide from her despite their attempts to mask their true capitalist intentions.
The revealing of the harsh facts surrounding her work and clashes with civil servants, bureaucrats and experts both in government and civil society is perfectly balanced by her own emotional investment in the story. She reveals herself in an open and transparent manner, she admits her mistakes, she apologizes to those whose good advice she did not heed, she admonishes those who tried to take advantage in the name of conservation, she makes recompense so that all can learn from this incredible series of events. But most of all she shows strength in telling her story without fear and thereby giving all of us an amazing insight into how internal politics can work against conservation and the common good.
It’s a book anyone interested in wildlife in any form should read, a page turner and an eye opener both. Will the wild tiger survive?
For Blood of the Tiger: A Story of Conspiracy, Greed, and the Battle to Save a Magnificent Species
Blood of the Tiger By J.A. Mills
Hardcover, 286 pages
Other formats: E-Book , CD-Audio ISBN 978-0-8070-7496-1 (Hardcover) ISBN 978-0-8070-7497-8 (E-book)
Published by: Beacon Press
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
"Many people think wild tigers are on the road to recovery, but they are in greater danger than ever—from a menace few experts saw coming. There may be only three thousand wild tigers left in the entire world. More shocking is the fact that twice that many—some six thousand—have been bred on farms, not for traditional medicine but to supply a luxury-goods industry that secretly sells tiger-bone wine, tiger-skin décor, and exotic cuisine enjoyed by China’s elite.
Two decades ago, international wildlife investigator J. A. Mills went undercover to expose bear farming in China and discovered the plot to turn tigers into nothing more than livestock. Thus begins the story of a personal crusade in which Mills mobilizes international forces to awaken the world to a conspiracy so pervasive that it threatens every last tiger in the wild.
In this memoir of triumph, heartbreak, and geopolitical intrigue, Mills and a host of heroic comrades try to thwart a Chinese cadre’s plan to launch billion-dollar industries banking on the extinction of not just wild tigers but also elephants and rhinos.
Her journey takes her across Asia, into the jungles of India and Nepal, to Russia and Africa, traveling by means from elephant back to presidential motorcade, in the company of man-eaters, movie stars, and world leaders. She finds reason for hope in the increasing number of Chinese who do not want the blood of the last wild tigers to stain their beloved culture and motherland.
Set against the backdrop of China’s ascendance to world dominance,Blood of the Tiger tells of a global fight to rein in the forces of greed on behalf of one of the world’s most treasured and endangered animals."