Birds, Beasts and Bedlam Turning My Farm into an Ark for Lost Species, reviewed

We look at the latest book by Derek Gow. See more about the book on the Chelsea Green Publishing website here.

Birds, Beasts and Bedlam Turning My Farm into an Ark for Lost Species reviewed

We enjoyed Derek’s last book about his exploits and those of others also in helping to reintroduce the beaver to the United Kingdom. We also found his podcast interview with us insightful and informative too. It makes sense that he has continued writing to help explain what he is trying to achieve and to reach a wider audience. He is passionate, informed and aware of the complexities of what he is trying to achieve.

We when spoke to him last he mentioned that his next book was going to be about rewinding and wolves. It looks like that book is now the next book after this one. This one is a further attempt to join up the wider dots between the path to what he is doing now and the people who inspired him to follow this course. He explains how his childhood experiences inspired and drew him into animal conservation, with a few sad mishaps along the way.

As the title refers to his own farm we felt at times there was less about this, about more about the colourful characters he had met along the way prior to creating the farm. This makes sense to some degree, but, at times, the narrative did seem to meander some distance from the core topic. At the same time it may help to inspire some readers, perhaps by illustrating that the path to being proactive and helpful to animals is never completely straight forward, nor obvious. His experiences with Gerard Durrell of course further illustrate this as Durrell changed his ideas and opinions through the course of his life in terms of the best practices for animal protection and conservation.

This is a thoughtful, and thought provoking book. Well worth a read, especially, on autumnal nights. Check it out.

More about the book

Birds, Beasts and Bedlam recounts the adventures of farmer-turned-rewilder Derek Gow, who is saving Britain’s much-loved but dangerously threatened species, from the water vole to beaver, wildcat to white stork, and tree frog to glow worm.

Derek tells us all about the realities of rewilding; how he reared delicate roe deer and a sofa-loving wild boar piglet, moved a raging bison bull across the country, got bitten by a Scottish wildcat, returned honking skeins of graylag geese to the land and water that was once theirs, and restored the white stork to the Knepp Estate with Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree.

Derek’s first book, Bringing Back the Beaver, was a riotously funny and subversive account of his single-handed reintroduction of the beaver in Britain. Birds, Beasts and Bedlam, a natural successor to Gerald Durrell’s A Zoo in My Luggage, tells the story of Derek’s rewilding journey and his work to save many more species by transforming his Devon farm into a wildlife breeding center. He now houses beavers, white storks, water voles, lynx, wildcats, and harvest mice, with the aim of releasing them into the wild one day.

Tearing down fences literally and metaphorically, Derek Gow is the one person with the character and strength of will to defy authority, bend the rules—and save our wildlife.

About Derek Gow

Derek Gow is a farmer, nature conservationist and the author of Bringing Back the Beaver. Born in Dundee in 1965, he left school when he was 17 and worked in agriculture for five years. Inspired by the writing of Gerald Durrell, he jumped at the chance to manage a European wildlife park in central Scotland in the late 1990s before moving on to develop two nature centres in England.

He now lives with his children, Maysie and Kyle, on a 300-acre farm on the Devon/Cornwall border, which he is in the process of rewilding. Derek has played a significant role in the reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver, the water vole and the white stork in England. He is currently working on a reintroduction project for the wildcat and a book on our lost wolves.

Connect with the author

Derek Gow’s Website

Derek Gow on Facebook

Derek Gow on Twitter

Derek Gow on Instagram

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