Henricus Peters writes:

I was fortunate, back in the late 1990s, to visit the East African savannah and witness some of the most amazing wildlife there. With wildlife comes life and death – and with the life comes ‘poo’… but, now that I come to think of it, I was not ‘wading through the brown stuff’! 

So, yes… why isn’t the world covered in an immensely thick layer of poo?  With billions of creatures on Planet Earth spending their lives eating and producing dung, what happens to it all?  Acclaimed entomologist Richard Jones answers this and other questions in this brilliant book. 

Call Of Nature is a “journey through the digestive sys-tems of humans, farm and wild animals, to meet some of nature’s ultimate recyclers as they eat, breed in and compete for dung. The fall of bodily waste onto the ground is the start of a race against the clock as a mul-titude of dung-feeders and scavengers consume this rich food source.” 

Far from being a boring or even dirty/repellent subject, once I’d begun reading and looking at accompanying videos on YouTube, I found myself ever-intrigued and wanting to know more about this fascinating, yet so easily missed, range of beetles. Did you know, for example, that a dung beetle can bury dung 250 times heavier than itself in one night? 

Dung beetles play a remarkable role in agriculture. By burying and consuming dung, they improve nutrient recycling and soil structure. They also protect livestock, such as cattle, by removing the dung which, if left, could provide an easy home for flies and other pests.  Some countries, especially in the developing world, have actually introduced beetles for the benefit of animal husbandry. 

Call Of Nature is nicely illustrated and well structured. The book covers three topics of dung. The first third is historical which explains all things dung, from its usage in the world to how it’s made in your body. The second part is an in-depth look at the dung beetles the masters of the dung world. The third part is very detailed information of dungs and dung harvesters, with descriptions and pictures. There are some very clear ID guides but all are in black and white and all aimed at the mature reader / upper primary and secondary student, not a ‘kids book’. The tone is mostly quite high-brow, though I did laugh aloud every so often at Jones’s expert descriptions of the ‘pooey’ subject matter – nothing here is off limits! 

In the age of our search for looking after our planet – and for the earth’s top recyclers – you need to look no further! Call Of Nature is not just a ‘bodily waste’ book, but a resource that’s calling you to learn more about nature/ourselves.  

Call of Nature—the secret life of dung. Richard Jones (2017). Pelagic Publishing, pelagicpublishing.com. Hardback, pp292. ISBN 978-1784271053. £16.99. 

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