Alarus Press (2008)
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (9/08)
After 20 years of safaris, Don Shay presents an array of photographs and text for the armchair traveler to get in touch with the reality of the wildlife of Africa. From the beginning of the coffee-table book to the last page, the reader is mesmerized with the beauty of the land, enthralled by the stances of endangered species, and moved by the challenge of predators upon their prey. Shay’s own experiences are captured in the text, giving the book a feel of a memoir and enhancing the armchair travel to a point of wanting to take an African safari in person.
I’ve always been drawn to primates so I was excited to see pictures of the various species. Reading Shay’s experience with them was of most interest to me and brought even more life to the photographs. His writing is very vivid and made me feel like I was there on the safari with him.
As a point of interest, Shay writes “A repository of Guinness records, Africa lays unchallenged claim to the largest, the tallest, the fastest, the most animals of any place on earth. More than a thousand species of land creatures coexist on the continent, each providing a vital link in the overall ecosystem.” Understanding an ecosystem is essential, one begins to realize the necessity of predators and prey. Shay captures the splendor of a lion with a wildebeest kill, a cheetah feeding on a pregnant gazelle, and a hyena warding off a competitor.
Poignant, compelling, and exuberant, “Endangered Liaisons” is one of those books that provides the reader an experience of a lifetime, much like an actual safari would. I find myself going over and over the photographs and each time I’m drawn in to another aspect of the journey. It is not much wonder Don Shay and his wife Estelle keep returning to Africa, to yet experience another realm of wonderment.