Beautiful Beasts, Beautiful Lands

Beautiful Beasts, Beautiful Lands

The fall and rise of an African national park

Mark Infield

'It is one of the best, most honest and inspiring books about  conservation I have ever read'. Extract from the foreword by Professor EJ Milner-Gulland Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity; Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science, University of Oxford

  • A critique of modern conservation in the face of climate and biodiversity emergencies
  • Describes the author’s journey from nature lover to conservationist
  • Investigates the history and values of national parks and the conflicts generated by colonial and post-colonial efforts to control the land


Print edition: £18.99
240 x 170mm
240 pages
illustrated with 80 photos, 1 map, colour throughout

When Lake Mburo National Park in Uganda was created in 1983, thousands lost their land and livelihoods. Three years later people reclaimed the land and set out to destroy the park and its wildlife. Reduced in size and settled throughout, the park seemed lost. This was the challenge faced by Mark Infield on arrival in Uganda as a young conservationist. A programme of recovery over a 10-year period proposed and implemented by the author and colleagues in Uganda National Parks used community conservation approaches, and today the park is saved and visited by thousands.

With this project as its primary focus, Beautiful Beasts, Beautiful Lands looks back at Mark’s 30 years in conservation and asks the questions ‘What really works?’ and ‘Why?’ This is a personal account of the author’s 30 years work in nature conservation, focused on the rise and fall and rise again of this national park.

Despite this and other successes, and while lands under conservation increase, the natural world continues to wane. Local support is critical if national parks are to survive, and efforts over many years building links to communities must have more than a fleeting success – as this book amply demonstrates.

After five years explaining to Bahima pastoralists who named the land Karo Karungi – the Beautiful Land –  why the national park was important, the author finally thought to ask for their views. Their answers changed his thinking about the park, about working with communities, and about how and why to protect nature.

Beautiful Beasts, Beautiful Lands provides a commentary on nature conservation, casting light on its failures, and explaining why protected areas are stronger when based on local values than when based on financial worth. It puts forward a way of thinking that reaches out to ancient connections between people and nature, putting beauty and meaning firmly back at its centre.


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