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Would you live on a remote, cold, wet and windswept island in the great Southern Ocean for a year, with only a handful of companions?

For some it is paradise.

Pain forms the character journeys through four decades of extraordinary wilderness adventure, tribulations and delights. Through first-hand accounts, it captures the nostalgia, and blood, sweat and tears of the “cat hunters” and “sealers” of Marion Island. On this far-flung island midway between South Africa and Antarctica, feral cats once wreaked havoc on the millions of native seabirds. But then, through scientifically coordinated arduous perseverance, a great conservation triumph was attained: the largest island cat eradication feat in history. Today, more than three decades later, a globally recognised seal research programme which commenced during the cat hunting days continues to flourish. The generous scientific output and conservation benefits, however, do not describe how many lives were perpetually influenced through participation in these endeavours.

The colourful and enormously influential 40-year long ‘island career’ of “Doc” Marthán Bester – cat hunter, sealer and university professor – provides context throughout. From his 1970’s student expedition days on Gough Island, to coordination of cat hunting, and leadership of marine mammal research at Marion Island, the enriching stories of those who worked within his sphere of influence capture the essence of the cat hunter and sealer legacy.