One of the world’s leading experts on big cats writes passionately on behalf of the beasts he loves.
As a child, Rabinowitz (Life in the Valley of Death: The Fight to Save Tigers in a Land of Guns, Gold, and Greed, 2007, etc.), co-founder and CEO of Panthera, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the world’s wild cats, discovered that he could communicate with jaguars at the Bronx Zoo. Since then, he has become a significant voice for the species. This is not merely an account of his field work or of his commendable conservation efforts (his work in Belize led to that country becoming the first in the world to give the jaguar a protected reserve); it is also a history of jaguars from the Pleistocene to the present day and an examination of the complex relationship between jaguars and the early civilizations of the New World. While various pre-Columbian cultures revered the jaguar, royalty and warriors regularly killed the animals for their skins, teeth and claws. The author examines his struggle to understand the essence of “jaguarness,” a quality he admiringly sums up as fudoshin, the state of mind of the most advanced practitioners of Japanese martial arts. Once Rabinowitz grasped that there was only one species of jaguar, not the eight geographically separate subspecies heretofore recognized, he saw the importance of linking isolated groups into a single breeding population from Mexico to Argentina. His current conservation efforts are directed toward establishing a wildlife travel route between breeding populations to decrease the risk of extinction. Rabinowitz also discusses the Jaguar Corridor Initiative, which involves conservationists working cooperatively with governments, private landowners and developers to create a model of how conservation and development can coexist.
An irresistible account that will be of great interest to conservationists and may make cat lovers look at their pets’ behaviors with new eyes.