Sur­viv­ing Be­yond the Back of Be­yond

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Travel & Adventure - BY KRIS­TINE MOR­RIS

Dou­glas Chad­wick, Patag­o­nia Hard­cover $24.95, (288pp), 978-1-938340-62-8

“In a re­mote and piti­less desert on the other side of the world from North Amer­ica lives a bear that science un­der­stands only poorly so far and the gen­eral public isn’t aware of at all,” writes wildlife bi­ol­o­gist Dou­glas Chad­wick. “One of the scarcest crea­tures on the planet, it is a type of griz­zly so ex­tra­or­di­nary that its ex­is­tence is hard to imag­ine even after you get to its home­land; in fact, es­pe­cially after you get to its home­land.”

The Great Gobi Desert, one of the five largest deserts on the earth, cov­ers half a mil­lion square miles, and with rain­fall av­er­ag­ing a mere four to six inches per year and tem­per­a­tures that soar to 122 de­grees Fahren­heit in sum­mer and drop to as low as mi­nus forty in win­ter, it is not the most com­fort­able place to track, cap­ture, and ra­dio-col­lar griz­zlies. But time is of the essence if this unique sub­species is to be saved; Gobi griz­zlies are now the rarest bears in the world, with only three to four dozen re­main­ing. For a month ev­ery spring since 2005, the Gobi Bear Project team has been catch­ing and ra­dio-col­lar­ing th­ese griz­zlies.

Though Chad­wick and the other mem­bers of the Gobi Bear Project know that sav­ing th­ese big, un­ruly, long-eared, shaggy, fun-lov­ing, choco­late-col­ored, bronze, or golden Gobi griz­zly bears will not change the world, it will at least keep them in it. That alone would make their work worth­while, not to men­tion wild mo­tor­cy­cle rides through the as­tound­ing stony land­scape and the thrill of dis­cov­er­ing a bear in one of their traps.

“Here’s the deal with most of us grown-up nat­u­ral­ists,” Chad­wick writes. “While we can toss around Latin names and bi­o­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples, there’s a huge part of us that’s still just an eleven-year-old on a trea­sure hunt.”

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