The Understory: A Female Environmentalist in the Land of the Midnight Sun
Tragedy haunted her. Her instinct to survive drove her. On the savanna of Zimbabwe, Michelle Schuman watched the tears fall from the eyes of a baby elephant as it mourned its mother, a bloody emptiness where her trunk and face were missing because of ignorance and self-indulgence. Deep in the bamboo forest of the Virunga Mountains, she was touched by a Mountain Gorilla. On the once-pristine shores of Prince William Sound, she bore witness to the sobering spectacle of hundreds of seals ready to give birth, dragging their blackened, distended bellies through the oozing black death of greed spilling from the guts of the Exxon Valdez.Although she also suffered an unbearable loss, and the dangers of working in remote areas of Alaska were real and tangible, the true threat to her survival was not from the natural world, but from the world of men who sought to tame her. Passion and peril are intertwined in this true tale of Michelle’s drive to make the natural world a better place; she found her greatest hindrance not in physical challenges but in human adversaries. In the understory, largely concealed from view, are saplings and shrubs, herbs and grasses, rooted in a carpet of moss, beneath the canopy of trees. They provide the sustenance for the magnificent forest, and this is the inspiring story of one woman’s battle from beneath the forest canopy to the beyond—in a scramble to undo what has been done.