Conservation & Wildlife Books I Love

If you’re like me and struggle to find a good book to dive into, fear not! I have compiled a list of some of my favourite ocean/conservation/wildlife-related reads for you to check out this summer.

I’ve always been a big reader. Over the years, my taste has varied from fantasy to mystery to where it’s settled now: non-fiction books about subjects that I’m passionate about. And over the past few years, I have found some great ones! I love true stories because I find that I tend to learn something valuable from them. You may also note that I have a more personal connection to some of these. Let me know if you’ve read any of these, and what you thought.

Outlaw Ocean by Ian Urbina
This book is an amazing compilation of short stories from former New York Times journalist Ian Urbina. As a journalist, Ian Urbina spent many years on the open seas, observing the crazy things that happen on the so-called “Outlaw Ocean”. This book focuses more on the myriad of problems facing our oceans rather than specifically wildlife, however each story is different. From fishing in marine protected areas to sea slavery to major pollution issues, Ian manages to shed a light on problems that most of us have absolutely no idea about. On a personal note, I found out about this book after being completely fascinated listening to Ian give a presentation about this book at the Vancouver Aquarium at the beginning of 2020.

Reflections of Eden by Birute Galdikas
You’ve probably heard of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, for their work on chimpanzees and gorillas, but have you heard of Birute Galdikas? One of Louis Leakey’s three “trimates”, Birute got the opportunity of a lifetime at the age of 25 when she went to Borneo to study wild orangutans and rescue those living in captivity. This is an amazing story of a young primatologist, a woman who has dedicated her life to conserving orangutans and protecting their dwindling environment. I had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Galdikas during my third year of my undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University, when I took her class on primatology. It was the most surreal experience, and I am so grateful to have had the chance to meet one of my heroes!

The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll
This book is more of a small-scale look at what conservation can be, particularly in contrast with Reflections of Eden. This book explores one volunteer’s firsthand experience at Fauna Sanctuary, a chimpanzee rescue located in Quebec. The chimpanzees that he got to know had been rescued from research labs and each came with a different and heartbreaking backstory. Reading from Westoll’s point of view really made it feel like I knew the chimps myself, and I thought it was pretty neat that there was an organization like this in Canada.

Devil in Deerskins: My Life with Grey Owl by Anahareo
I read this book in one of my first university English classes, and found it very interesting. Anahareo, a Mohawk writer and environmentalist, detailed her life travelling through the wilderness in the mid-1900’s and later focus on wildlife and environmental protection – work which eventually convinced her husband, Grey Owl, to change from a trapper to a conservationist. With underlying themes of colonization and land possession, this book is a very relevant read for all Canadians who are trying to better understand early conservation and the value of relationships with the land in the 1900s.