Beloved Beasts

Michelle Nijhuis

Beloved Beasts



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The nature conservation movement first came about as a way to address the needs of a small group of privileged individuals. However, it has come a long way since then, thanks also to the vital role of scientists and activists, such as Aldo Leopold, Julian Huxley, and Rachel Carson, and today it focuses on a completely different course of action. In Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction, Michelle Nijhuis gives a no holds barred account of how the nature conservation movement was established, how it developed, the mistakes that were made, its dark side, and the achievements and the challenges that still await us in the future.

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Analysis and key concepts


It is crucial that people understand why we are fighting for species conservation, in order to ensure the widest possible support for the cause


The conservation movement has transformed over time from an elitist practice to a global necessity


Species are the fundamental units on which the current conservation system is based


For a long time, it was believed that animal species were constant and everlasting


Birds are the class of vertebrate most affected by extinction due to anthropogenic action


The concept of wilderness revolutionised the conservation movement


Important international institutions and new disciplines were created after World War II, which made it possible to extend conservation to broader ecological levels


The environmental and nature conservation movements have common goals, but different priorities




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Discover the origins and development of the nature conservation movement.
  • Learn about the lives and efforts of conservation scientists and activists.
  • Gain awareness about the current and future challenges of conservation.

Michelle Nijhuis is a journalist and biologist by training, who specialises in telling stories about conservation and global change. She is a project editor at The Atlantic, where she edits features for the Planet newsletter, and a series called Life Up Close. Her articles have also been published in National Geographic and The New York Times Magazine. Her research and reporting have been supported by the Alicia Patterson Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and the Food and Environment Reporting Network. Her book, Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction, won the Sierra Club’s 2021 Rachel Carson Award.

Publishing house:

W.W. Norton & Company