Along with the works of Gerald Durrell, Farley Mowat, and Sterling North, one of the books that a young Carrie returned to over and over again was Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine. The premise, as the title implies, was that the two men traveled about seeing animals that mightn’t be available for viewing any more in the near future. This book was first published in 1990, bringing it up on its 20th anniversary.
So what happened next?
The Kakapo, a nocturnal, lek-breeding parrot, is up 125 individuals, which doesn’t sound great, and isn’t. But it’s a lot better than 1975, when the bird was thought to be possibly extinct.
The Rodrigues flying fox is at 3000 individuals in the wild, and more in the zoos. They breed well in captivity, but they’re still vulnerable to poaching and natural disasters because of their limited range.
The mountain gorilla is still a tourist attraction. Economic significance can preserve, or it can make you a pawn of war.
There turned out to be more aye-ayes than people thought. This is one of the advantages of being small and nocturnal and staying out of the way.
The baiji, known to some as the Yangtze River Dolphin, has not been definitely sighted since 2002 and is believed to be functionally, if not fully, extinct, although footage filmed in 2007 may show a lone individual.
Douglas Adams died of a sudden cardiac event in 2001. He was 49. Last Chance to See was, according to an interview, his favorite of his works.
Mark Carwardine has teamed with Stephen Fry to revisit some of the creatures and issues featured in the book for the BBC.