As I was driven up to the Sani Pass in the Drakensberg in South Africa recently, an African wildcat leapt from the side of the road and disappeared among the proteas. Since arriving from Europe, feral domestic cats have interbred with indigenous wildcats. The blending is often imperceptible. In time, my guide suggested, no pure African wildcats will remain in the Drakensberg; all will carry the genes of the introduced animals. Alien introductions, the burning of fossil fuels, habitat destruction, overexploitation and extermination: one way or another, we are continuing to mess with nature to an alarming and, for some species, irreversible extent.
It’s a message that cannot be repeated often enough if we are to bring about changes in our current behaviour. In The Golden Mole and Other Living Treasure, the award-winning children’s author – not to mention biographer of John Donne – Katherine Rundell has added her passionate, lyrical voice