Subtitled: The Story of Africa’s Great Animal Preserves, the ROYAL NATIONAL PARKS of KENYA, as Told by Their First Director. It’s pretty much what that says. The author grew up near Nairobi, when it was just the tiny beginning of a town. His father was a big-game hunter and Cowie learned the same skills, but as he got older he started to feel that killing wildlife for mere trophies or to get rid of threats to livestock was incredibly wasteful. He became imbued with a desire to protect wild lands that he saw being overrun by cattle, plowed for crops or razed to build houses. This book is about his life’s work to protect the animals, thwart poachers, influence public opinion and people in power in order to get land set aside for national parks. Then there was the effort to staff the parks, manage visitors, instill rules (early on it was common for people to approach lions and other wildlife far to casually on foot- for a better view or photographs). The author admits to his own errors early on- for example habituating a lion family so they could impress a dignitary by taking them to view the animals. End result was the lions became so used to humans they were finally deemed dangerous and had to be shot. There are many small stories about encounters with rhinos, hippos and buffalo, hyenas stealing things, the importance of vultures to the ecosystem and more. There’s also a lot about local politics, warfare that interrupted the work on establishing the park system (two world wars and a local rebellion), and the difficulties with managing everything that had to do with such an endeavor. Of course I found the parts about the animals more interesting, but the rest shows just how hard it is to change people’s minds, and what a significant difference this man’s work had.