Thorbjarnarson, John and Xiaoming Wang. The Chinese Alligator: Ecology, Behavior, Conservation, and Culture. 2010. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 265 pages. Price: $85.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: One of the world's most respected experts on crocodilians, John Thorbjarnarson (1957-2010) was a senior conservation zoologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society during the writing and designing of this book. Dr. Thorbjarnarson was a tireless advocate for conservation, and it was during one of his many conservation—related trips in early 2010 that he contracted a fatal case of malaria. Though more than 10,000 Chinese alligators live in zoos and breeding facilities, just a few hundred still exist in the wild. Much of their natural habitat has been lost to human development, leaving wild Chinese alligators clinging to small areas where the Yangtze River meets the Pacific Ocean. Thorbjarnarson and Wang recount how and why the species declined to the point where it is perhaps the most threatened of all crocodilians, discuss ongoing conservation works, and project what the future is likely to bring for the Chinese alligator. Their scientific synthesis sits in stark contrast to the alligators' unique relationship with Chinese culture, where folklore views it as a water deity related to dragons. Illustrated throughout and featuring the most up-to-date biological information available, this volume is a complete overview of the Chinese alligator, a conservation and cultural icon.
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone with an interest in the crocodilids.