A conservationist with a deep knowledge of pumas writes with infectious enthusiasm about their place in nature.
Williams, a wildlife biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, shares bits of his personal life and his experiences with pumas not just in the Rocky Mountains of the American West, but in Chile and Argentina as well. The path of the puma, known also as the panther, mountain lion, or cougar, extends from the Yukon to Tierra del Fuego at the extreme south of Argentina; half of this work about the most widespread mammal in the Western hemisphere is set in Patagonia. The author fills his account with a host of characters he has known and worked with, including biologists, wildlife managers, hunters, ranchers, and gauchos. He introduces the puma as a silent stalker whose survival—indeed, its growth in both numbers and range—in North America has hinged on its invisibility. By contrast, in Patagonia, he finds that the animal is far more visible and that the conflicts between people, puma, and livestock loom large. Williams describes his role there as the bearer of important lessons of tolerance from Montana, and he describes the changes that are now beginning to restore the region’s ecological integrity. While the book is an undisguised conservationist’s plea, complete with an end-of-book “What You Can Do” section, it is not a harangue. The author’s passion and his firsthand knowledge of his subject make the narrative highly readable. A noteworthy feature of this work is the presence of numerous full-color photographs throughout, sometimes scattered, sometimes grouped together. Of course, the pumas are the stars of the show, but other creatures—bears, sheep, horses, deer, and other wild cats—are also included. The many spectacular landscape photographs are a treasure on their own and worth the cover price.
A handsome book that is well-balanced, instructive, and authoritative.