The Storm Leopard is an alchemic blend of travel and nature writing that explores the primary dilemma of the 21st century – the conflict of modern lifestyles with the natural environment. This is an account of the author's journey from the Cape to the Serengeti Plains and his search for an answer to the Old Timer, a Kenyan who foretold the end of the wild. Martyn decided on one more trip, but this time without an agenda, without a timetable and without preconceptions: with no purpose other than to know, to feel and to understand. The book is filled with insights of African elephants and antelope, and with portraits of a natural world inhabited by Bushmen, game wardens and scientists. Running through it is an outspoken and highly ethical regard for humankind's relationship with nature. From his first contact with Bushman rock art in the Western Cape, the author is drawn into a spiritual journey as he grapples with the quandary of balancing our lifestyles with protecting the environment. His travelling companion, Stu, a fellow scientist and arch cynic, is nettled by this lack of rationality. Marooned together in their 4A--4, the friction, humour and hardship of their journey carry the reader across the continent from one adventure to another, to the final revelation atop an isolated kopje in the heart of the Serengeti Plains. The Storm Leopard is a unique book that emanates from the author's passionate affair with nature and many years of experience in the field as an ecologist and consultant in conservation - nothing deals with today's environmental issues in the same way.
'A lively, informative, and very well written meditation on all aspects of back country travel in Africa'
'I spent the whole evening and late into the night reading the Storm Leopard… the issues raised must be considered by everyone concerned with conservation.'
The Storm Leopard is an enthralling book. Martyn Murray journeys from the Cape of South Africa to the Serengeti Plains, sampling the mundane and especially the extreme places, and immersing the reader in the richness of Africa... Whether researching the dynamics of impala, camping with his soul mates, haggling for a roadworthy jeep, or holding forth on elephant welfare with a wildlife reserve director, Martyn Murray captures the vibes of Africa, its customs and its moods. The Storm Leopard is a sheer joy to read. Congratulations to the publishers Whittles for discovering Martyn Murray – this is nature writing at its finest.
One of the veldt visionaries.
The Sunday Times
This beautifully written book is a study of relationships: Bushmen and their art, elephants and their habitat, zoologists and their study animals, scientists and the environment, the author and his children. Like others who have read this book I was turning pages into the night as the trip unfolded, unaware, at first, that each adventure was but another brushstroke on a far greater canvas. Slowly collages of awareness drifted into perspective and became woven together by the relationships that infuse the book, the canvas beginning to look more and more like man's giant footprint on the natural world. Is it a shadow that may pass by if humanity learns to communicate with each other? Or is it stamping on the soil of Africa, even grinding it under heel as selfish interests compete with each other? The author provides the canvas and a vision but there is little sermonizing - you need to read the book to find out if you agree with the old timer's statement that started this odyssey: "they will all disappear one day. Every single wild place."
It's the kind of travel writing - passionate and well-informed - that could inspire you to set off on your own voyage of discovery.
—Msafiri - Kenya Airways
Builds up in a kind of crescendo, like a storm itself.
Written from his diaries of the trip, The Storm Leopard tells of the adventures that Martyn and Stu - his cynical travelling companion - get into as they drive their 4x4 into ever more remote territory... After camping with the Bushmen, Martyn recalls, “I’ve come to realise their holistic relationship with nature is something that we don’t have. Their intimate knowledge of the habitat and animals around them is quite incredible. Whilst we destroy, they’ve achieved a balance with wildlife.”
A powerful synthesis of observations and meditations that demonstrates the loss of man's sentimental value towards the environment at traditional, economic, political and policy levels... It attests to our intellectual capacity to think beyond exploitation of the environment.
—African Journal of Ecology
Such fun, and so moving. I felt as though I was on an adventure reading it.
The author was accompanied by his friend, Stu, a reporter, during the trip, who acted as counter balance against Martyn’s (more spiritual) conservation views. This resulted in fascinating debate about conservation issues faced by Africa today. The Storm Leopard discusses some thought-provoking ideas about conservation and the relationship of man with nature… it will open up the window to some new ideas about wildlife conservation that will hopefully force conservation biologists, in fact all people involved in conservation, to expand their knowledge.
—South African Journal of Wildlife Research
...at times, it was difficult to put down. The book is suitable for readers of all backgrounds. I would particularly recommend it to any individual with an interest in the ethical implications of wildlife research and management.
—Ecological Management & Restoration
Someone who has immersed himself in what he believes, and applied it physically and mentally - he wants time and space to think, and also to explore the challenge of wild places and their continued existence... Martyn Murray is the real thing.