On a Wing and a Prayer 

Reviewed By  Grasshopper2       July 20, 2015


Author  Sarah Woods

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 9781472912138
Publisher:         Bloomsbury Childrens
Release Date:    

Website:    http://www.allenandunwin.com 

Since the age of seven, Sarah has been fascinated by jungles, animals, insects and birds.  Her introduction to these from her cosy home in England, was due to Tarzan!  Once she had seen his life-style, she longed to travel into the jungle and see this marvellous environment for herself.  The ultimate experience for her was to wander through Central and South America, travelling solo for most of the time.  This book tells the story of her journeys and the thrill that she experienced  in seeking the Harpy eagle, the National bird of Panama.

The first of Sarah’s quests was in Panama between 1995 and 2005.  It was here that she first saw the Harpy Eagle (in captivity), and it fascinated her so much that it became a goal to seek out the bird in the wilderness.  Sarah was a journalist and was sent to report on the Canal hand-over from the USA.  She returned to Panama sometime later to begin exploring the jungle and acclimatising to Equatorial climates. When Sarah decided to hire a guide, the hunt for the Harpy eagle, in the densest jungle, became a reality.
To arrive at the National Park, Sarah endured a hair-raising flight, where the pilots became lost in a storm.  Eventually, they arrived at Sambu, which doesn’t have an airport, “just a tin shed with a shuttered, counter-styled window.” Unfortunately, when they did get close to the eagle, poachers had been, and all that remained was a ruined nest.

In 2008, Sarah returned and chose to stay with the Wounaan tribe in Panama. These people placed huge emphasis on a person’s aura, and the author had to have a pleasing one before she was allowed in their village.  Thankfully, her aura was considered positive, and she was introduced to the elders of the tribe.  They explained to her the rules of village life, and then took her to meet the people.  She was expected to play a part in the tribe’s survival.  At first, she cared for the children, and then gradually worked alongside the women of the village.

Several other adventures awaited Sarah as she travelled to Brazil and Peru.  The photographs in this book bring her words to life, showing some of the people she met, some of the birds that she saw and a marvellous aerial shot of the Bocas del Toro archipelago.  Hopefully, this book will highlight the plight of our rainforests, while it entertains.  We need to encourage and educate people, if we wish to save our rapidly dwindling exotic wild-life.