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Last updated: Tue. Apr. 22, 2014 - 06:36 am EDT

Biologist finds joy in African park


“A Window on Eternity” (Simon & Schuster), by Edward O. Wilson

Biologist Edward O. Wilson doesn't spend a lot of time in his exploration of Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park on the American entrepreneur who sponsored its rebirth after a 14-year civil war. Instead, “A Window on Eternity” focuses on what is working among the animals in the park, and the result is a virtual nature walk through an African landscape.

Gorongosa became a battleground during the 1978-1992 war, and then poachers nearly picked its ruins clean of large animals. Wilson visited the park in 2011 to investigate the progress of conservation efforts that have renewed the park's vegetation and wildlife since 2004.

According to Wilson, some of the elephants that survived the worst years in the park remember the war and remain easily spooked by the sight of humans and vehicles. He mourns for the park they lost, but he finds hope for their rehabilitation in the work of insects.

Wilson specializes in ants, and his explanations about the importance of insect relationships and biodiversity in Gorongosa are charming and accessible — no jargon, just joy.

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