Like the hummingbird one, this book is also by an author who traveled the world to see many different species- of turtles. In this case, it wasn’t just to view rare and endangered species, but also to meet and interview people involved in protecting or caring for turtles, and conversely, those who profit from catching or selling them. There’s turtle farms, turtle sanctuaries, turtles in zoos- and those languishing in bins under the counter of meat markets. He meets with conservationists, tour guides, volunteers who dig up and relocate turtle eggs from beaches, and those who are releasing the hatchlings again. He meets people in small street stalls who peddle elixirs from turtle bones (said to give people longevity) and interviews a man convicted of turtle smuggling, in a prison. He finds the fascination people have with acquiring rare turtles compelling, and gets his own pet turtle. Descriptions of his quiet moments spent observing “Fred” and wondering what his turtle is pondering are interspersed through the chapters. While I liked reading about the turtles, I found it sad how much of the book’s focus was about the negative impact humans have had on turtles worldwide. Habitat loss, demand for traditional medicine in Asia, collectors buying turtles just to say they own them, and ordinary folks in our southern states who catch turtles to eat them, all are reducing their numbers. Most of this book I found kept me on the page, the humor worked for me, the details were just right- but I did start to loose interest when it got more into the lives of criminals involved in turtle smuggling. That aside, I’m probably going to look for other books by this author.
Borrowed from the public library.