Kalahari Dream

Image of Kalahari Dream: The true story of one couple's efforts to save wildlife in the Kalahari.  Sixty video clips and over 100 photos of endearing Kalahari animals.
Release Date: 
October 12, 2011
Publisher/Imprint: 
CreateSpace
Pages: 
302
Reviewed by: 

“Describing how an enterprising and committed couple invest their life savings in establishing the one and only animal rehabilitation center and sanctuary in the Northern Cape at the time, Kalahari Dream is an inspiring view of how personal endeavor can contribute to the preservation and conservation of what might otherwise be increasingly more endangered species. . . . Their honest account rings clear across the plains and hopefully might have some impact on South African conservation authorities, leading to them taking another look at the way in which they interact with the civilian population.”

Billed as “an [African] movie book, which takes advantage of all that the Internet has to offer,” Kalahari Dream by authors Chris Mercer and Beverley Pervan is a blend of written text and visual image that is best read as an ebook, as the text is interspersed with numerous links to illustrative video clips on YouTube.

Describing how an enterprising and committed couple invest their life savings in establishing the one and only animal rehabilitation center and sanctuary in the Northern Cape at the time, Kalahari Dream is an inspiring view of how personal endeavor can contribute to the preservation and conservation of what might otherwise be increasingly more endangered species.

The two intrepid pioneers unabashedly state that their view of rescuing wildlife was based on emotional idealism, especially on the part of Ms. Pervan, rather than on a background of extensive work in the field of rehabilitation.

Perhaps if they had been more experienced, their encounters with both wildlife and specialists in the field would have been less jarring, though they would inevitably also have been less humorous. Underlying all the difficulties with which they met is the acknowledgment of their own shortcomings, of which they are both patently aware. The best part of this text, both visual and verbal, is their desire to make a go of it against all odds. Their spirit, above all, is to be commended.

Unfortunately, however, Kalahari Dream has a strong likelihood of preaching to the already converted, as those who are most likely to come to admire Mr. Mercer and Ms. Pervan’s self-sacrificing efforts will probably already have been committed conservationists prior to embarking on the reading/watching of the text.

The authors in no way try to soften the truth of what they encounter: the inhumane treatment of both humans and animals by officialdom comes across starkly and jarringly. Their honest account rings clear across the plains and hopefully might have some impact on South African conservation authorities, leading to them taking another look at the way in which they interact with the civilian population. No doubt that is at least partly what Mr. Mercer and Ms. Pervan had in mind when creating this work. In no way do they try to act in a conciliatory and pacifying way towards those whom they regard as obstructing and hindering, rather than helping, their work. Too much was clearly at stake in their eyes.

Although the intertwining of written text with electronic format sets an exciting precedent for guidebooks of the future, it does immediately limit its audience, in that if you buy the printed version and lack immediate access to electronic devices what you basically get is a 302-page book that contains no illustrations at all. As such, Kalahari Dream hardly, on first glance at least, holds promise of an appealing read.

Reaching the target audience of a work is, of course, the primary aim of any publisher, and presumably, in this case a non-African audience was what was in mind, so that the relatively low number of people on the African continent who have ready Internet access was not regarded as a challenge. Perhaps if the authors wish to broaden their audience in the future they might keep this issue in mind.