An ardent advocate for species protection and conservation of tropical rainforests, Ghazally Ismail tells us of his encounters with the primates in his first memoir entitled Monkey Moment: Encounters in Rainforest Escapadaes. That was in 2021 after hunkering down at home during Covid 19 pandemic. What a true raconteur he proves to be in sharing his amazing experiences in Borneo, the world’s third largest island. As a sequel to his previous book, he now brings us to another tropical ecosystem that is undergoing an equally gripping future. He writes about the fascinating mangrove plant and animal species currently under siege. Their continued survival are seriously at risk with the rapid disappearance of the mangroves unprecedented in modern history. Written in simple nontechnical language, he effectively explains the evolution and adaptation of mangrove species in order to thrive in their harsh inhospitable environment. Here too, he again produces beautiful drawings of plants and animals to accompany his well-researched text.
Like the rainforests, tropical mangroves are been systematically cleared and drained at alarming rates for land reclamation, housing development and aquaculture. In the process, we are exposing ourselves to the two global calamities lurking at the doorsteps of humanity today, namely global warming and loss of biodiversity. Only the conservation of our rainforests and mangroves could we avert these pending catastrophes. In his book, Ghazally again shares his provocative thoughts on issues he has been grappling with throughout his academic life - the protection of biodiversity and their habitats. He gave intriguing revelations about the biological and behavioral features of mangrove species that are increasingly driven to the cusp of extinction. He effectively reminds us that the rainforests and mangroves are two known nature reserves in the entire universe we must learn to treat with utter respect with stringent and uncompromised guardianship. He speaks with an authority born of decades of university research, teaching and active involvement in organising expeditions into numerous biodiversity-rich tropical ecosystems in Borneo.
What distinguishes Ghazally from many of his environmentalist peers is his training in medical immunology and microbiology. Plants and animals are not his forte. He readily admits he does not have all the answers to the vexing ecological questions of our times. But his vast knowledge on tropical plants and wildlife are drawn from his networking and close associations with dozens of world-renowned researchers gravitating to Borneo in the past 40 years during his time there. He has essentially learned from field experts first-hand. This has put him on the vanguard of the conservation movement of the tropical ecosystems. He expressed passion and responsibility towards species and the environment without sanctimony, making this book a winning memoir for anyone interested in tropical ecology. A lively, readable hands-on account of fascinating field experiences that will appeal to a wide audience. “Environmentalism does not just happen,” he said,”It is forged through our impassioned sadness looking at the ever-increasing threats to our living world. I hope to inspire a generation that could pause, turn back and rediscover collective sanity in our relationship with planet Earth.”