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Four years. Seven continents. An unprecedented quest to document and preserve our last remaining wild lands: Peter and Beverly Pickford's Wild Land is a wildlife book like no other

Four years. Seven continents. An unprecedented quest to document and preserve our last remaining wild lands.

In more than 200 striking images, acclaimed South African photographers Peter and Beverly Pickford have created an epic, unparalleled portrait of some of our planet’s most untouched places: from the heat-beaten country of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast to Alaska and the Yukon’s abundance of water, in ocean, river and lake; from the subantarctic islands’ wind-tossed shores in the south to the Arctic’s immense expanses of cracked pancake ice in the north; and the dazzling juxtaposition of desert and water in Australia’s Kimberley to the remote, frozen peaks of Tibet and Patagonia.

Within these extreme landscapes, Beverly and Peter’s images illuminate and celebrate myriad forms of life: polar bears, rhinoceroses and bharal, as well as the humble lichen, are all evocatively pictured within the landscapes upon which they depend.

This is a wildlife book like no other, its images aching with what words struggle to describe: the resonance of wilderness in our inner being, the power of land to transform our emotion, and our ability to transcend the immediate to become sublime.

Wild Land’s stunning images are accompanied by a fascinating text in which Peter not only vividly describes the photographers’ adventures in pursuit of wild land, but also delivers a timely message that highlights the urgent need for these lands to be preserved for the future of the planet – a future on which humankind’s very survival is dependent.

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Launch: An Elephant in My Kitchen by Françoise Malby-Anthony (23 August)

Françoise never expected to find herself responsible for a herd of elephants with a troubled past.

A chic Parisienne, her life changed forever when she fell in love with South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony. Together they founded a game reserve but after Lawrence’s death, Françoise faced the daunting responsibility of running Thula Thula without him. Poachers attacked their rhinos, their security team wouldn’t take orders from a woman and the authorities were threatening to cull their beloved elephant family. On top of that, the herd’s feisty new matriarch Frankie didn’t like her.

In this heart-warming and moving book, Françoise describes how she fought to protect the herd and to make her dream of building a wildlife rescue centre a reality. She found herself caring for a lost baby elephant who turned up at her house, and offering refuge to traumatized orphaned rhinos, and a hippo called Charlie who was scared of water. As she learned to trust herself, she discovered she’d had Frankie wrong all along . . .

Filled with extraordinary animals and the humans who dedicate their lives to saving them, An Elephant in My Kitchen is a captivating and gripping read.

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Watch: Vishwas Satgar discusses The Climate Crisis

Capitalism’s addiction to fossil fuels is heating our planet at a pace and scale never before experienced.

Extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels and accelerating feedback loops are a commonplace feature of our lives. The number of environmental refugees is increasing and several island states and low-lying countries are becoming vulnerable.

Corporate-induced climate change has set us on an ecocidal path of species extinction. Governments and their international platforms such as the Paris Climate Agreement deliver too little, too late.

Most states, including South Africa, continue on their carbon-intensive energy paths, with devastating results. Political leaders across the world are failing to provide systemic solutions to the climate crisis.

This is the context in which we must ask ourselves: how can people and class agency change this destructive course of history?

Volume three in the Democratic Marxism series, The Climate Crisis investigates ecosocialist alternatives that are emerging. It presents the thinking of leading climate justice activists, campaigners and social movements advancing systemic alternatives and developing bottom-up, just transitions to sustain life.

Through a combination of theoretical and empirical work, the authors collectively examine the challenges and opportunities inherent in the current moment. This volume builds on the class-struggle focus of Volume 2 by placing ecological issues at the center of democratic Marxism. Most importantly, it explores ways to renew historical socialism with democratic, ecosocialist alternatives to meet current challenges in South Africa and the world.

Vishwas Satgar is a democratic ecosocialist and has been an activist for over three decades. He is an associate professor of International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He edits the Democratic Marxism series for which he received the distinguished contribution award from the World Association of Political Economy.

Satgar recently discussed the impact capitalist industrialisation, among others, has on the planet’s ecosystem during an evening hosted by Tshisimani. Watch in full:

Vishwas Satgar: The climate crisis and democratic eco-socialist alternatives from Tshisimani on Vimeo.

The Climate Crisis

Book details

  • The Climate Crisis: South African and Global Democratic Eco-Socialist Alternatives edited by Vishwas Satgar
    EAN: 978-1-77614-054-1
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Cuddle Me, Kill Me is a true account of South Africa's captive lion breeding and canned hunting industry

Canned lion hunting sprang to the world’s attention with the 2015 launch of the documentary, Blood Lions. This movie blew the cover off a brutal industry that has burgeoned in the last decade or so, operating largely under the radar of public concern.

In Cuddle Me Kill Me, veteran wildlife campaigner Richard Peirce reveals horrifying facts about the industry. He tells

  • The true story of two male lions rescued from breeding farms
  • The exploitation and misery of these apex predators when they are bred in captivity
  • How young cubs are removed from their mothers mere hours after birth
  • How they are first used for petting by an adoring (and paying) public
  • Their subsequent use for ‘walking with lions’ tourism
  • And how, in the final stage of exploitation, they are served up in fenced enclosure for execution by canned hunters – or simply shot by breeders for the value of their carcass, a prized product in the East.

Well researched by Peirce with the help of an undercover agent, and illustrated with photos taken along the way, this is a disturbing and passionate plea to end commercial captive lion breeding and the repurposing of wildlife to cater for human greed.

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"Through a self-conscious engagement we can learn to live our lives in relation to nature without domination." Jacklyn Cock at the launch of Writing the Ancestral River

By Mila de Villiers

The audience and author at the recent launch Love Books launch of Writing the Ancestral River: A biography of the Kowie.

“Jackie was concerned about the turn-out, but it looks as if the whole of Black Sash is here,” a close friend of author Jacklyn Cock quipped at the launch of Cock’s Writing the Ancestral River.

He did have a point…

Love Books, a gem of an independent book store in Johannesburg, was teeming with acquaintances of the author and bibliophiles alike, eager to hear Cock – a feminist, Marxist, environmental activist and Professor Emeritus at Wits University – discuss her book with fellow activist, socialist and the director of Khanya College, Oupa Lehulere.

Cock emphasised the impact the past continues to have on the present throughout their conversation, drawing on the historical significance of the Kowie River (the subject of her book), in terms of both the colonial history behind the river and its peoples, as well as the current danger the river is facing at the hand of developers. (Whom Cock describes as “irresponsible destroyers of the natural world.” Hear hear!)

Cock informed the audience that she structured her book around three moments which shaped the environmental and social significance of the Kowie: the Battle of Grahamstown (22 April 1819); the development of the Port Alfred harbour; and the destructive impact caused by the construction of the Port Alfred Marina, stressing the ecological damage the river has endured during and after the development thereof.

In her chapter on the Battle of Grahamstown, Cock draws on the parasitic relationship between genocide and ecocide, citing the scorched earth policy employed by the colonial settlers to claim ownership over the riverbanks as detrimental to both the surrounding habitat of the river, and the livelihood of the Xhosa people.

Cock’s relationship with the Kowie stems from more than that of a concerned environmentalist, she told the riveted audience.

Her great-great grandfather, William Cock, was one of the British settlers who helped to consolidate colonial power over the river. Regarded as a visionary amongst her family, Cock vehemently declared that he was a “war monger”. (Followed by a quick “[m]y parents would turn in their graves if they heard me say this out loud!”)

She further described her ancestor as an “instigator of ecocide”.

“The initial title of the book was going to be From genocide to ecocide,” she confined, adding that “I’m not very good at titles…”

The history and legacy of the Kowie River acts as a continuation of deep sociological and environmental injustice, Cock stated. The river is currently under threat; a victim of privileged greed. (The decision to construct the Port Alfred Marina was made by eight white men, of which six were property developers, Cock disclosed.)

“We have to acknowledge our past,” Cock continued.

“Through a self-conscious engagement we can learn to live our lives in relation to nature without domination.”

Unfortunately humanity has, throughout the ages, regarded nature as a separate entity; a mere ‘thing’ which main purpose is to serve us, without giving any heed to the exploitation thereof, or its mortality.

“We have to rethink the ways we produce, in a just and caring way. The notion of a just transition encompasses the links between social and environmental issues,” Cock said, furthering this argument by referring to post-apartheid legislation which didn’t prioritise environmental reform.

The difficulty in shifting our mindsets about producing in an environmentally-conscious way lies with the labour movement, she continued, employing the example of coal factories shutting down in favour of renewable energy sources as a threat to jobs.

Cock criticised the exclusionary nature of discussing environmental (in)justices, attributing this tendency to the remote spaces in which such discussion predominately take place, namely that of universities.

“Academics talk to each other, yet everybody should get involved in the struggle.”

(This proclamation was met with a “Viva!” from an audience member, followed by unanimous applause.)

We have to understand that all sectors of society are under threat, Cock continued, adding that we should have respect for the natural world apart from monetary value, concluding with the following powerful statements:

“We have to move away from the materialistic notion that values are attached to power; this is a fundamentally flawed way of thinking.

All of us are part of one ecological unity.”


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"Does the pirate already know who his pursuer is?" Read an exhilarating excerpt from Catching the Thunder

A story of courage and perseverance.

Wanted by Interpol, infamous poaching ship Thunder evaded justice for over 10 years. Illegally making millions a year, its crew hunted endangered species and destroyed ocean habitats. In Dec. 2014, Captain Hammarstedt of the Bob Barker and his crew began a relentless pursuit of the Thunder – a hazardous race across three oceans, the longest chase in maritime history.

The authors follow this incredible expedition, encountering criminal kingpins, rampant corruption, slavery and an international community content to turn a blind eye. Catching the Thunder becomes a symbolic race to save the planet.

Eskil Engdal and Kjetil Sæter were the first to tell the story of the hunt for Thunder in a series of newspaper articles. Both are award-winning investigative journalists in their own rights, between them winning the SKUP journalism award, the International Reporter’s Journalism Award and the Golden Pen, among others.

Read an extract!

The Southern Ocean,
December 2014

Everything is in motion.

The albatrosses, suspended effortlessly on the air current with their three-metre-long wings, now cross upward against the wind. Then they set out in a broad-reaching, leeward arc, plummet towards the surface of the ocean and turn back into the wind to ascend once more.

In the south, out of the Prydz Bay, an eternal, invisibly flowing stream transports ice from inner Antarctica to the coast. The winds rush out from the hinterland. Shaped by dense, cold air from the Antarctic continent, they sweep down the uncompromising polar plateau and inward across the coast.

The wind is blowing from the southwest at four knots; the ocean is flowing silently and calmly around the two ships and the waves swelling to heights of barely more than a metre. The Thunder is headed west. Does the pirate already know who his pursuer is? Is that why the mate on the Thunder is sailing in the opposite direction of the Bob Barker’s home port in Tasmania? Perhaps he wants to test how far Captain Peter Hammarstedt is willing to pursue them?

Suddenly, the Thunder changes course, heading in the direction of a belt of pack ice. The mate reduces the speed to two knots, heads northwest and around a square ice sheet. The two ships sail along the northern edge of the drift ice for a long while. When they enter a wide gulf with ice on all sides, the Thunder stops. It is as if for a moment the ship becomes aware of the danger that lies ahead.

“There’s a lot of pack ice. Let’s see what these guys do. They may turn, they might go in,” first mate Adam Meyerson says. “It is a waste of their time and ours. They may be testing us. We are faster than they are, so they cannot outrun us. Trying to wear down our jaw. I’m sure they are desperate. They have no other options,” he says.

“They are just going to see what we will do, I think. Let’s get in right on their stern,” Hammarstedt says.

During the brief lull, the Bob Barker’s photographer runs up on deck to take photographs of the draft marks, which indicate how high the Thunder is sitting in the water. This can give them an idea of the amount of supplies and fuel on board.

Then the Thunder doggedly directs its bow towards the pack ice, at first carefully and tentatively, as if the shipmaster wants to test how contact with the ice will affect the ship.

Suddenly, it speeds up and the propeller churns open an ice-free channel which allows the Bob Barker to follow without having to do any icebreaking of its own. Hammarstedt cannot follow more than 700–800 metres behind the Thunder, or the channel that has been cleared ahead of them will close up.

“Who knows what the game is?” asks Simon Ager, the Sea Shepherd’s Canadian photographer.

“They may be testing if we will go into the ice. They may try to see if they can go through the ice faster than us,” Meyerson says, holding one hand beneath his chin and observing the manoeuvre taking place in front of him with an incredulous gaze.

For a moment, Captain Hammarstedt considers calling up the captain of the Thunder and asking if he thinks the manoeuvre into the ice is advisable, but he decides against it. He does not want to reveal his own nervousness.

Hammarstedt’s foremost concern is that the ice will oblige him to stop. Then it will close up behind the Bob Barker and can force its way in between the hull and the rudder, putting the most exposed part of the ship out of commission. That is a nightmare when you are located two weeks from the closest port and the only ship in the vicinity is fighting to get rid of you. The most dangerous of all is navigating between the ice and the Antarctic continent if the wind should suddenly change direction, sending the ice masses towards the ship while the wind laboriously packs the ice around the hull, shutting it in. Then the steel will begin to give way, the pressure from the ice threatening to tear it open. In such a case, getting into the life boats serves no purpose.

“Right now the Thunder is acting erratically. Trying to find something that sticks. We have never been up against these guys before. We are going to wear them down. I don’t think they will last that long,” Meyerson says on the bridge.

The sound of the ice scraping along the hull is like stone against a grinding wheel. The noise grates its way into the cabins, from time to time an explosion can be heard from the treacherous floes of drift ice. These are “bergy bits”: on the surface they are no more than 2–3 metres across, but nothing on the ocean surface reveals the actual depths to which they extend. When they break free from a drifting ice berg and reach the ocean, they roll over, washing off the surface snow and remain floating there with a clear surface of glassy ice that makes them difficult to read on the radar. Weighing up to 500 tons, they can easily sink a ship.

Around the Thunder and the Bob Barker the ice grows thicker and thicker. First it closes in around the Thunder, subsequently the Bob Barker. The ships are surrounded by ice and they plough slowly forward. Soon Adam Meyerson can make out a clear blue strip of open sea. The Thunder moves out of the ice first, increases its speed and sets its course north, away from the ice.
From the bridge they watch as the Thunder grows smaller and smaller against the horizon, but they know they will manage to catch up with her as soon as they have broken through the last of the ice floes.

A half hour after midnight, both of the ships are out on open water.

“Come on, guys, let’s go to Fremantle and I’ll buy you a beer. And then I take you to jail,” Adam Meyerson laughs.

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