Markle introduces the critically endangered Amur leopard, detailing current strategies to augment its numbers using temporarily relocated, zooborn cats.
From a 1950s population of around 2,400, the leopard dwindled to about 30 by 2007, despite increasing conservation efforts by such international groups as the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance. Markle presents the Amur leopard’s native habitat, eastern Russia's taiga, or boreal forest. She shows the effects of modern logging, mining, farming, and hunting on a rugged region that previously favored the leopard’s large, solitary home ranges and ample access to prey. In 2010, an international coalition began planning for a second, backup population of Amur leopards, recognizing that the remaining cats could be wiped out by disease or disaster. Russia protected the leopards’ last natural habitat in 2012, later designating separate taiga land for the spare population. Markle’s crisp prose conveys the extensive scientific and technological steps needed to ensure that zooborn adult leopards could mate in large enclosures, with mothers teaching their young to hunt. After two years, cubs would enter their wild habitat, with mothers returned to their zoos. Clear, often riveting stock photos show adult cats and cubs in natural habitats as well as zoos, and maps are effectively utilized. Markle invites readers to track the evolving progress of the plan to help the Amur leopard survive.
Excellent writing and documentation distinguish Markle’s latest. (author’s note, additional facts, timeline, glossary, quotation sources, annotated list of web and print resources, index, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 8-12)