Jaguar One Man's Struggle to Save Jaguars in the Wild

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9780002178273: Jaguar One Man's Struggle to Save Jaguars in the Wild

In 1983, zoologist Alan Rabinowitz ventured into the rain forest of Belize, determined to study the little-known jaguar in its natural habitat and to establish the world's first jaguar preserve. Within two years, he had succeeded. In Jaguar he provides the only first-hand account of a scientist's experience with jaguars in the wild. Originally published in 1986, this edition includes a new preface and epilogue by the author that bring the story up to date with recent events in the region and around the world.

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Review:

In the early 1980s, working at the behest of the noted biologist George Schaller, Alan Rabinowitz traveled to the newly independent Central American nation of Belize to study jaguars, once extensive throughout the Americas, in a remote, densely forested part of that country. ("If the world had any ends, [Belize] would surely be one of them" Aldous Huxley once wrote.) There, deep within mountainous jungle, Rabinowitz conducted a thorough study of the jaguar's natural history, studying its diet (made up, he writes, of a surprising quantity of armadillos), movements, and territories, and learning the ways of the much-feared cat. He also learned a little something about himself--discovering, he writes, that "once I had overcome my initial fears of this dense, dark green world, I started to enjoy it."

Over his two-year stay, Rabinowitz developed plans to establish a forest sanctuary that would be free of the jaguar's principal enemies--not deadly fer-de-lance snakes or other large predators, but loggers, poachers, and cattle ranchers, all of whom had their reasons for wanting to see jaguars disappear from the region. Although he was successful in convincing the Belizean government to authorize the Cockscomb preserve, Rabinowitz writes in the afterword to this revised edition of Jaguar (first published in 1986), the jaguar haven came at a cost to Mayan people who lived in the area and were forced to relocate. His memoir will be of great interest not only to admirers of the jaguar, a magnificent animal by any measure, but also to students of international ecological issues. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Alan Rabinowitz is CEO of Panthera Foundation. Educated at the University of Tennessee, with degrees in zoology and wildlife ecology, Dr. Rabinowitz has traveled the world on behalf of wildlife conservation and has studied jaguars, clouded leopards, Asiatic leopards, tigers, Sumatran rhinos, bears, leopard cats, raccoons, and civets.

His work in Belize resulted in the world’s first jaguar sanctuary; his work in Taiwan resulted in the establishment of that country’s largest protected area, its last piece of intact lowland forest; his work in Thailand generated the first field research on Indochinese tigers, Asiatic leopards, and leopard cats, in what was to become the region’s first World Heritage Site; and his work in Myanmar has led to the creation of five new protected areas there: the country’s first marine national park, the country’s first and largest Himalayan national park, the country's largest wildlife sanctuary, and the world’s largest tiger reserve. 

Dr. Rabinowitz has authored nearly eighty scientific and popular articles and six books, including Jaguar: One Man’s Struggle to Establish the First Jaguar Preserve (1986/2000), Chasing the Dragon’s Tail: The Struggle to Save Thailand’s Wild Cats (1991/2002), and Beyond the Last Village: A Journey of Discovery in Asia’s Forbidden WildernessNew York Times, National Geographic Adventure Magazine, Outside Magazine, Scientific AmericanMen’s Fitness, GEO, Natural History, and Audubon. He has been featured in television specials by the National Geographic Society and the BBC, and recently consulted on an IMAX film project about tigers in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh and India.

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