West Milton journalist makes a book of his African travels

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Brian Jackman and Annabelle, with meerkats in the Kalahari Brian Jackman and Annabelle, with meerkats in the Kalahari

Journalist Brian Jackman has put his great love of Africa into print.

He has just published his Savannah Diaries, a distillation of those 40 years of wanderings.

With a foreword by Virginia McKenna of the Born Free Foundation the book couldn’t come more highly recommended.

Mr Jackman, from West Milton, has had a lifelong love affair with sub-Saharan Africa since his boyhood in London when he devoured book after book on it.

He learnt the Swahili names for all the top predators long before he ever thought to see one for himself.

“Love is altogether too feeble a word to describe what I feel for this ancient continent,” he says.

Fans of his writings in both The Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph will already know about his abilities to convey the beauty and magic of the place and its wildlife.

Now he wants to use his abilities to bring Africa to life through his writings to make a plea to save its threatened species.

He says: “Today, tragically, the long shadows of extinction are reaching out even further across the Savannah.

“The elephants I thought safe after the international ivory trade ban of 1989 are again at the mercy of the poaching gangs. Rhinos – their horns now worth more than their weight in gold – are being butchered in unprecedented numbers and lions are in decline almost everywhere except in the Serengeti.

“As a travel writer I have been lucky enough to see it all when the going was good.”

Mr Jackman says his stories carry a message.

“I truly believe that eco-tourism, provided it is operated at a sustainable level, holds out the greatest hope for the survival of Africa’s wildlife and last wild places.

“If this book persuades people to go and see it for themselves, it will have achieved its purpose.”

Virgina McKenna said: “Some people experience moments when their lives change forever.

“But few have Brian’s extraordinary skill in bringing them to life for the reader.

“His vivid descriptions lift us effortlessly into sharing some of these moments, whether he is watching a pride of lions, being confronted by a huge bull elephant, listening to birdsong, absorbing the harsh environment of the desert.

“This is a book everyone who loves Africa should read. But this is more than a reliving of memories, more than an encouragement to visit unknown places and open new horizons. Brian has presented us with a powerful and inescapable warning.

“If we cut down forests, pollute rivers, treat the land and its creatures with indifference, kill wild animals for ‘sport’, poach them for their body parts, then there will be no ‘wild’.

The book is published by Bradt travel guides for £9.99.

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