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  Authors and Book Reviews  

December 17 - 23, 2010

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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One Man's EXTRAORDINARY Passion for Lions and for Africa ...

Coastweek -- Tony Fitzjohn with one of his many close lion friends.
PHOTO - COURTESY: GEORGE ADAMSON TRUST

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'Lion Man' Tony Fitzjohn
Writes A Best Seller !

AN INSPIRATIONAL TALE OF WHAT ONE COMMITTED
INDIVIDUAL CAN ACHIEVE AGAINST THE ODDS
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Coastweek -- Christmas has come early this year for renowned conservationist Tony Fitzjohn: his recent biography 'Born Wild: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Passion for Lions and for Africa' is right up there in the 'best seller' books list.

Written together with Miles Bredin and variously published to considerable acclaim in America and Europe by the Penguin Group the book has also been warmly received by critics.

Brian Jackman writing in the Sunday Telegraph notes: 'Born Wild describes his (Tony) breathless roller coaster across the African savannah with passion and humour, an inspirational tale of what one committed individual can achieve against the odds.'

Daily Telegraph reviewer Graham Boynton adds:

'The book ends with Tony returning to Kora, invited back by the Kenyans to the happy landscape of his wild youth.

'They want him to restore the area to the state it was in before Adamson was murdered and Fitzjohn himself was run off the land - and it is a challenge he is relishing.

'Which makes this a truly African story and the author, despite his place of birth, a true African.'

Coastweek -- LASTING LOVE FOR LIONS:  Tony Fitzjohn in a familiar pose with one of the numerous lions he successfully re-introduced to the savannah of Kenya's Kora National Wildlife Reserve.
PHOTO - COURTESY: PENGUIN BOOKS

British humourist, media star and conservationist Martin Clunes writes:

'Hugely compelling and funnily written ... From tragedies of the worst kind to triumphs unimaginable, he's a true pioneer making up solutions to situations as he goes along.'

English adventure and travel writer Ben Fogle is no less impressed:

'Brilliant, truly brilliant. I was hooked. It was inspiring, moving and exciting.

'He is the last of the swash buckling conservationists who has selflessly devoted his life to the people and the wildlife of Africa.

'A true African adventure of epic proportions. It makes me want to give up everything and move to Africa.

'Sometimes a thriller, some-times a love story and at others a howl of despair, Born Wild is the moving story of how one man stood up for the world’s most exotic and endangered wild animals.'

Britain's Daily Mail newspaper has further published exciting excerpts from the book under the heading: 'Father of the pride: How a British backpacker became the saviour of Africa's big cats.'

Katherine Stroud of Penguin News describes 'Born Wild' as:

'A story of passion, adventure and skulduggery on the frontline of African conservation.

'Following Tony Fitzjohn's journey from London bad boy to African wildlife warrior, the heart of the story is a series of love affairs with the world’s most beautiful and endangered creatures – affairs that so often end in pain ...

Coastweek -- Tony Fitzjohn with his mentor George Adamson in Kora Park.
PHOTO - COURTESY: GEORGE ADAMSON TRUST

' ... For to succeed in reintroducing a lion or leopard to the wild is to be deprived of their companionship.

'Tony tells of his twenty years in Kenya with George Adamson of Born Free fame - a time of discovery, isolation and frequent danger living far from civilisation.

'And when he was prevented from re-introducing any more animals into the wild and made unwelcome in the country he loved, Tony had to start anew in Tanzania.

'Tony Fitzjohn has spent over forty years re-introducing lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and African Hunting Dogs to the wild.

'He is one of the world’s leading field experts on the relationship between man and African wildlife.

'In recognition of his selfless efforts in game conservation and wildlife management hewas awarded the O.B.E. by the Queen and the Order of the Golden Ark by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.'

Tony and his several wildlife foundations now work from the Mkomazi Game Reserve, encompassing over 1,200 square miles in north-east Tanzania, and adjacent to Kenya's Tsavo National Park.

Together, the two areas constitute one of the largest protected wilderness eco-systems in Africa.

In 1988, the Tanzanian government asked Fitzjohn to reclaim Mkomazi, which was then on the brink of ecological disaster due to overgrazing, burning and indiscriminate hunting and poaching.

Since then, the elephant, lion, hyena, leopard, cheetah, impala, eland, oryx and lesser kudu populations have made a remarkable recovery and steady increases have been observed in the numbers of water buffalo, zebra, giraffe and kongoni.

The Mkomazi reserve not only hosts 78 species of wildlife all year round, it is also home to over 450 species of bird:

doves, hornbills, weavers and guinea-fowl are all present in large numbers – besides such striking species as the martial eagle and the violet wood-hoopoe.

The years at the Kora National Reserve proved an invaluable learning experience for Fitzjohn which helped him build the Mkomazi Game Reserve.

Kora made Fitzjohn an expert in capturing, collaring and radio-tracking Africa's top predators, as well as raising and returning them to the wild.

In his book Tony Fitzjohn recalls:

'But while Kenya had several rhino sanctuaries, Tanzania didn’t have a single one – and total population had dwindled to a mere three dozen from around 10,000 a few years before.

'So we set about the protracted process of buying our first four black rhinos – once indigenous to Tanzania – from a South African game reserve – and, ten years after I first arrived at Mkomazi, we unloaded the rhinos from their crates and let them roam in their new home.'

Mkomazi is a truly unique area, both for its density and the diversity of its wildlife. A proposal has been submitted to upgrade its status to National Park.

Life in the bush can be hard and difficult and Tony lovingly acknowledges the warm support of his wife Lucy and kind comfort of their children, Alexander, 14, Jemima, 12, and ten-year-old twins, Imogen and Tilly.

To raise funds for his many conservation projects Tony Fitzjohn regularly lectures at the Royal Geographical Society, schools, zoos, wildlife parks, and talks to diverse groups of supporters.

He has also testified on wildlife issues on behalf of the Tanzanian government at a Congressional Sub-Committee hearing in Washington, D.C.

In a life committed to the conservation of East Africa, he believes that Tanzania can provide an unrivalled refuge for some of Africa's most endangered animals.

'Born Wild: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Passion for Lions and for Africa ' is now available at leading book stores and from www.Amazon.com

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