Book Review: No Word for Wilderness

No Word for Wilderness

By Roger Thompson


The title of this book refers to the fact that there is no word for wilderness in Italian. According to the author, in Italy, national parks are not the big deal that they are in other parts of the world. The locals don’t go visit them often. So, when something threatens the existence of the last bears there, people are not familiar with them.

One bear made himself known though. The author tells the story of Bruno, a bear who wreaked havoc during a major sports event. This bear killed sheep and didn’t eat them all, upsetting plenty of farmers. The bear ended up in Germany, where it was killed. The story was known internationally.

The other bears live quietly in the mountains and go about their lives in relative secret. There are estimates of as few as 40 of the brown bears left. They are called the Abruzzo bears after their location. But many threats to their continued survival exist. Not much is known about them since they have not been studied in depth.

There are lots of politics involved, including the appointment of the supervisors of the various parks. Plus, oddly enough, the Mafia is involved in cattle ranching, which poses another threat to the bears’ habitat since they are keeping the cattle in the parks. This is allowed under Italian law, so the bears are not in a good position.

One scientist wants to clone the bears and other endangered species. His technique looks promising, as shown in the book. But, is that the best solution?

This is primarily a book about the various threats to the continued existence of these bears. It does not seem to be intended to be a thorough life history account of the Abruzzo bears. It’s more about what is happening to them and what is being done at the moment.

The book is a good introduction to the bears and what challenges they face. Will it be enough to awaken an interest in preserving the last brown bears in Italy? This book is a must-read for conservationists or bear lovers. There must be something that can be done to save the last of the bears before they go extinct.


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