Wilson takes readers to the summit of Mount Gorongosa, sacred to the local people and the park’s vital watershed. From the forests of the mountain he brings us to the deep gorges on the edge of the Rift Valley, previously unexplored by biologists, to search for new species and assess their ancient origins. He describes amazing animal encounters from huge colonies of agricultural termites to specialized raider ants that feed on them to giant spiders, a battle between an eagle and a black mamba, “conversations” with traumatized elephants that survived the slaughter of the park’s large animals, and more. He pleads for Gorongosa—and other wild places—to be allowed to exist and evolve in its timeless way uninterrupted into the future.
As he examines the near destruction and rebirth of Gorongosa, Wilson analyzes the balance of nature, which, he observes, teeters on a razor’s edge. Loss of even a single species can have serious ramifications throughout an ecosystem, and yet we are carelessly destroying complex biodiverse ecosystems with unknown consequences. The wildlands in which these ecosystems flourish gave birth to humanity, and it is this natural world, still evolving, that may outlast us and become our legacy, our window on eternity.