by Jessica Speart
This is the story of Yoshi Kojima, a criminal who gets his way smuggling endangered butterflies and insects in and out of practically every country, whenever he pleases, because he works for National Geographic. Except he doesn’t. Collecting the rarest specimens from Central America to Madagascar to Papua New Guinea to the Grand Canyon, he eventually gets caught because of the sexual attachment he develops (over the internet) to the undercover US Fish and Wildlife Special Agent Ed Newcomer; not because of his M.O. Lucky for the planet, Newcomer’s obsession with putting Kojima behind bars quickly surpasses Kojima’s obsession with possessing the rarest butterflies (and as many of them as possible).
The book is a fast-read; provides satisfying details to what you might have read while the story was all over the news, and some parts make you chuckle because you remember, there was a time hotels did not have internet; Skype was not yet a verb, and companies like eBay could decline to assist federal investigations. The dedicated work of Ed Newcomer gives you some hope that the loopholes Kojima exploited will not work for other criminals in the future. Sorry to ruin it for you, but this book is not fiction. Kojima lives in the same unfair world we wake up to every morning, and his imprisonment doesn’t even put a dent in the smugglers’ network; status quo remains. As you read this, animals are going extinct because obsessive psychopaths are paying fortunes to possess their body parts.
Please do read this book, and appreciate the passion of people like agent Ed Newcomer, who is trying to make a difference. And, remember this piece of advice before you kiss another entomologist:
“Get personally involved with an avid butterfly collector and you will always come in second. Mainly because those obsessed with insects tend to have trouble connecting with people and forming relationships. Butterflies become their refuge. For others, such as writers and artists, butterflies become their muse.”