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  • Published: 25 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9780857527011
  • Imprint: Doubleday
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $34.99

Elegy For a River

Whiskers, Claws and Conservation’s Last, Wild Hope




A conservationist's hopeful and charming study of our endangered riverbanks and specifically the water vole, once ubiquitous and now close to extinction.

A DAILY MAIL BOOK OF THE WEEK: 'particularly enjoyable'
'Somehow laugh-out-loud funny - passionate, warm and full of fascinating insights into the eccentric world of the field naturalist.' - Isabella Tree, author of Wilding

Water voles are small, brownish, bewhiskered and charming. Made famous by 'Ratty' in The Wind in the Willows, once they were a ubiquitous part of our waterways. They were a totem of our rivers. Now, however, they are nearly gone. This is their story, and the story of a conservationist with a wild hope: that he could bring them back.

Tom Moorhouse spent eleven years beside rivers, fens, canals, lakes and streams, researching British wildlife. Quite a lot of it tried to bite him. He studied four main species - two native and endangered, two invasive and endangering - beginning with water voles. He wanted to solve their conservation problems. He wanted to put things right.

This book is about whether it worked, and what he learnt - and about what those lessons mean, not just for water voles but for all the world's wildlife. It is a book for anyone who has watched ripples spread on lazy waters, and wondered what moves beneath. Or who has waited in quiet hope for a rustle in the reeds, the munch of a stem, or the patter of unseen paws.

Praise for Tom Moorhouse:

'The pages of this book are shot through with quicksilver light reflected from wet fur - not a lament for our rivers but a chorus of hope for their future.' - Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path
'Beautiful and important. Tom's book is extraordinary in its gentle curiosity and sympathy for his subjects. I love this book.' - Sir Tim Smit KBE, Executive Vice-Chairman and Co-founder of the Eden Project

'Terrific. Lightly but beautifully written. Very moving. Water voles are adorable little beasts. They are also tough, randy and stroppy, as Tom Moorhouse makes clear in this wry, amusing account of the often bloody, painful and frustrating business of conservation fieldwork. 'I hold stubbornly to optimism,' he declares, and his Elegy for a River demands that we do the same.' - Christopher Somerville, walking correspondent for The Times and author of The January Man

  • Published: 25 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9780857527011
  • Imprint: Doubleday
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $34.99

About the author

Tom Moorhouse

Dr Tom Moorhouse is a conservation research scientist who has worked for twenty years at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, in Oxford University’s Zoology Department. He completed his DPhil on the conservation ecology of water voles in 2003 at Oxford. He has since published extensively in the academic literature on water vole and hedgehog ecology and conservation, the management of aquatic non-native species, and on the conservation and animal welfare impacts of humans’ recreational use of wildlife. His current work examines wildlife consumer psychology and experimentally tests consumer education messaging, designed to reduce global demand for wildlife products.
Outside of conservation research, Tom is also the author of award-winning children’s fiction, and has published a number of public engagement pieces based on his own research, including the winner of the 2003 New Scientist New Millennial Science Writing Competition, entitled Reintroducing ‘Ratty’.

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