Montgomery journeys into the heart
of the wildebeest migration with a wildlife biologist who has been studying
these African mammals for more than 50 years.
Eleven chapters and a reflective
epilogue chronicle a two-week visit to Tanzania’s northern plains with a small
group led by Richard Estes, “the guru of gnu.” Montgomery, who has described
many remarkable scientific field trips for the Scientists in the Field series, aims this report at older
readers who can take in and act on her underlying message: “Throughout the
Serengeti, our kind threatens the very survival of the migration we’ve come so
far to witness.” Tension heightens as the wildebeest hordes elude them for
days. Finally, a dramatic car breakdown in the wilderness is followed by “immersion”
in an ocean of migrating gnus—a climax that would be unbelievable in fiction.
Setting this particular safari in a larger context, and heightening the
suspense, are interspersed short segments about Serengeti wildlife, poachers’
snares, the role of fire, “other magnificent migrants,” and more. The overall
design is inviting and appropriate to the subject. There are maps, plentiful
photos of African animals, and pictures and minibiographies of Montgomery’s
all-white safari companions, both American and Tanzanian. Montgomery touches on
the white-directed nature of much scientific research in Africa as well as
pressures from colonialism and climate change but keeps her focus tightly on
A splendid wildlife adventure
skillfully conveyed. (acknowledgments, selected bibliography, note on
wildebeest conservation and tourism, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction.