"You really don’t understand—or worse, seem to care—about how we live."

A charming story with a serious message emerges from Happy Hollow, a village in the Republic of South Africa. The two unlikely messengers are Credit the crocodile and his croc friend Cynthia, who live happily on the Stewart Farm crocodile ranch. Credit is as smart as any person and knows how to communicate with humans. When Credit hears that two teenaged white American boys have come to “liberate” the crocs under the banner of the Animal Welfare Enterprises (AWE), he is intrigued; what are the crocodiles being liberated from, he wonders? Being twenty-five years old and quite smart, Credit knows that crocodile farms brought the crocs back from near extinction by protecting the eggs and adults from human and animal predators; judicious culling for meat and skin is a small price to pay. When the boys are sentenced to time in the bush for protesting without a permit, their education on the hubris of imposing your ideas on others without being asked begins—and so does the reader’s education.

Harris, a seasoned international public policy expert, skillfully unfolds an entertaining tutelage on the meaning of practical conservation. The interplay among Happy Hollow residents, the boys, and Western officials illustrate the growth of politics and greed in international conservation and how ludicrous and impractical the resulting rules can be. But the real schooling comes in the bush, from Credit (and Cynthia), who allow the boys to realize that humans and greedy conservation groups, not crocodile farms, are the real threat. In a highly entertaining, non-judgmental, imaginative, and extremely educated and well-researched fashion, Harris shows us the politically charged issue of African animal conservation fueled by “crackpot ideas on what wild animals ‘want’.” We see the wisdom of Credit’s words: let Africans deal with African problems—AfriCAN.

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