The Kingdom of Rarities
When you look out your window, why are you so much more likely to see a robin or a sparrow than a Kirtland's warbler or a California condor? Why are some animals naturally rare and others so abundant? The quest to find and study seldom-seen jaguars and flamboyant Andean cocks-of-the-rock is as alluring to naturalists as it is vitally important to science. From the Himalayan slopes of Bhutan to the most isolated mountain ranges of New Guinea, The Kingdom of Rarities takes us to some of the least-traveled places on the planet to catch a glimpse of these unique animals and many others. As he shares stories of these species, Eric Dinerstein gives readers a deep appreciation of their ecological importance and the urgency of protecting all types of life — the uncommon and abundant alike.
An eye-opening tour of the rare and exotic, The Kingdom of Rarities offers us a new understanding of the natural world, one that places rarity at the center of conservation biology. Looking at real-time threats to biodiversity, from climate change to habitat fragmentation, and drawing on his long and distinguished scientific career, Dinerstein offers readers fresh insights into fascinating questions about the science of rarity and unforgettable experiences from the field.
"Eric Dinerstein’s engaging new book [is a] . . . zoological travelogue, observing rare species across the planet and contemplating, as he does so, why rarity is profoundly important for our understanding of nature and our efforts to conserve it."
“The well-traveled Mr. Dinerstein presents vivid case studies on the world's least common creatures, from a red hummingbird stranded on Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast of Chile to a cryptic forest-dwelling bovine in Vietnam . . . gripping.”
“What makes his book a good read is his deft writing and ability to bring his audience to the places he and his scientific colleagues have visited.”
“This is a truly fascinating and entertaining read—and a quick one as it is rather hard to put it down once you’ve started into it—and will no doubt have you looking at rare species in a whole new light, questioning what we really know of them, what their ecological roles truly are, and what might be done to preserve them in a way that is meaningful to their role in the local and global ecosystem.”
“Extraordinary and engrossing account . . . with a friendly intimacy, he offers a personal narrative, a travelogue, and a celebration of the natural world, not a polemic. When Dinerstein asks questions about biodiversity, habitat fragmentation, and conservation biology, he is constructive, engaging, and exceptionally well informed. He is also balanced and realistic, daring to ask which species are the most important to protect and why.”
"What makes an animal rare? Eric Dinerstein explains the nuanced answer in his book."
"Dinerstein captures this innate fascination in a worldwide tour of exotic places and spectacular species, from jaguars in the Amazon to birds of paradise in New Guinea. Along the way, he weaves in lessons in ecology as well as passionate calls for conservation action."
"Dinerstein's book offers a kaleidoscopic and highly entertaining picture of some of the world's most remote and diverse ecological hotspots."
"In prose that is both lyrical and exact, he takes readers through various 'motherlodes of rarities' in search of answers, from Cuba’s Zapata Swamp through the jaguar-dense Madre de Dios region of Peru to the still little-known Vietnamese jungle."
"Dinerstein (Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations), Lead Scientist with the World Wildlife Fund, provides nature lovers with an armchair tour of the world, focusing on rare species from New Guinea to Hawaii. In clear, concise prose he discusses the circumstances responsible for rarity like evolution, habitat loss, and war. . . . [H]ighly recommended for readers with interests in biology, natural history, and ecology."
"An evocatively described natural-history tour of the world's rare species. . . . Dinerstein enthuses and informs without being overwhelming."
"Dinerstein's text is admirably accessible to the non-scientist. . . . Besides the passing nods to ethnography, the book is also enlivened by occasional poetic touches, and an unexpectedly numinous regard for the aesthetics of the flora and fauna encountered."
"As well as a scientific journey, The Kingdom of Rarities is also an adventure story—to meet the rare species that are central to this tale, the reader travels with the author to exotic locations including remote New Guinea, Hawaii, the heart of the Amazon, and the foothills of the Himalayas . . . this book's topic is fascinating."
“Excellent example of storytelling, nature writing, and science.”
"The Kingdom of Rarities is a rarity itself, a book whose author is so in command of his material that you don’t realize how much you’re learning; you’re too caught up in the adventure of it all."
"Why are jaguars rare, despite being South America’s most powerful predator? Why, indeed, are most species rare? How can rare species exert a big effect on the landscape’s structure and function? If you, too, are open to the fascination that rare animals hold for adventure travelers and passionate ecologists, you’ll love the romance and exciting science that this book offers."
"He has cumulated over 40 years of his studies and experiences to highlight how rare species have developed intricate and complex webs, and how their existence has profound impacts on the ecosystem(s) in which they live . . . expertly weaves in examples to provide a solid context for layperson."
Chapter 1: The Uncommon Menagerie
Chapter 2: The Gift of Isolation
Chapter 3: A Jaguar on the Beach
Chapter 4: The Firebird Suite
Chapter 5: There, in the Elephant Grass
Chapter 6: Scent of an Anteater
Chapter 7: Invasion and Resistance
Chapter 8: Ghosts of Indochina
Chapter 9: Rarity Made Common
About the Author