Bring back the lions: the perfect Valentine’s gift for your conservation-minded sweetheart

Valentine’s Day is a special occasion for lovers of all ages. This year, in addition to gifting a dozen roses that will wither in a week and a box of soon-to-be-gobbled-and-soon-forgotten chocolates, why not add a gift that will keep on giving, one that will spark deep thought and inspire lifetime? ? That gift is a copy of Mike Arnold’s groundbreaking book, Bringing Back the Lions: International Hunters, Local Tribespeople, and the Miraculous Rescue of a Doomed Ecosystem in Mozambique. The value of this gift will continue for years to come.

In Bringing Back the Lions, Arnold, a Distinguished Research Professor of Genetics at the University of Georgia and one of the world’s leading conservation writers, details how a small group of professional hunters spearheaded a nearly 30-year effort to bring back once incredible wildlife paradise from a decimated and nearly arid landscape to one of the world’s major wildernesses, the area of ​​Mozambique known as Coutada 11, an official concession that covers 2,000 square kilometers (approximately 772 square miles) and includes some of the more diverse habitats and animals. species in Africa.

Written not in the boring style of a science class or textbook, but entertaining and engaging, this book details how, for generations, conservationists around the world have spent billions of dollars and countless hours trying to restore life. Wildlife and wildlife habitat in areas of sub-Saharan Africa decimated by many factors, including poachers, corrupt governments, starving local populations, and a lack of education and experience on how to balance current needs and wants with long-term sustainable goals that benefit both wildlife and local people. And while these efforts often produce short-term results, long-term successes have been few and far between.

“During my time at Coutada 11, I came to understand the essence of what I call the ‘invisible line,’ which demarcates a barren landscape with one full of life,” Arnold said. “I found that it depended on a combination of full stomachs, employment and the empowerment of local villagers; likewise, it depended on protection against marauders who would inadvertently tear apart the environmental web. On one side of the line, without animals, few trees, a lunar landscape; on the other, a solid canopy of trees broken by the occasional natural clearing, containing an overabundance of wildlife. The line reflected the restoration and protection of many ecosystems.

“It is no coincidence that the ‘invisible line’ also separated Sena hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers from a previously unseen category of their brethren: a rural population of middle-class merchants, cash crop farmers, and industry employees. of the safari, an industry that caused the transformation of the ecosystems and the life of the inhabitants of the Seine”, said Arnold. “I had forgotten the truth. In wild Africa, as in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, you find wild animals only where they are more valuable alive than as food. Here, as around the world, the conservation-by-hunting model works when nothing else will. Even photo tourism, with its associated infrastructure of roads and hotels required to transport and house the swarms of tourists, leaves a huge carbon footprint compared to hunting concessions, which host a fraction of the number of visitors.

“Professor Arnold’s work is a wonderful mix of travelogue, adventure tale, historical novel and environmental odyssey – an uplifting story of ecological and social restoration,” said Ian Sherman of Oxford University Press.

A lifelong hunter who has traveled the world, Arnold has published hundreds of research articles and four books on a variety of topics, including conservation biology. Publications like Science Magazine, The New York Times and National Public Radio continue to call Mike for interviews covering his research. In late 2022, he attended the 20th annual meeting of the African Wildlife Consultative Forum in Maputo, Mozambique, where he was honored to present a copy of his book to the Honorable Carlos dos Santos, Ambassador of Mozambique to the United States. He also recently had the opportunity to present an inscribed copy of Bringing Back the Lions to former US Secretary of State James A. Baker.

Bringing Back the Lions is available at, and other excellent bookstores. It will be a Valentine’s gift that will be cherished for years to come.