Rachel Love Nuwer
Da Capo Press, $28
Perhaps the most unsettling scene in Poached, by science journalist Rachel Love Nuwer, comes early in the book, in a fancy restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The author and two friends sit down and are handed leather-bound menus offering roasted civet, fried tortoise, stewed pangolin and other delicacies made from rare or endangered species. The trio makes an abrupt exit, but only after seeing a live cobra gutted at one table and a still-living civet brought out to feed another group of diners.
Statistics on the illegal wildlife trade can be mind-numbing. Rhinos have dwindled to just 30,000 animals globally and tigers to fewer than 4,000. Over a million pangolins — scaly anteaters found in Africa and Asia — have been killed in the last 10 years. Just last month came a report from the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society International that the United States imported some 40,000 giraffe parts, from about 4,000 animals, between 2006 and 2015.
But in Poached,…
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