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The Jaguar's Shadow: Searching for a Mythic Cat

Overview

When the nature writer Richard Mahler discovers that wild jaguars are prowling a remote corner of his home state of New Mexico, he embarks on a determined quest to see in the flesh a big, beautiful cat that is the stuff of legend—yet verifiably real.

Mahler’s passion sets in motion a years-long adventure through trackless deserts, steamy jungles, and malarial swamps, as well as a confounding immersion in centuries-old debates over how we should properly regard these powerful ...

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Overview

When the nature writer Richard Mahler discovers that wild jaguars are prowling a remote corner of his home state of New Mexico, he embarks on a determined quest to see in the flesh a big, beautiful cat that is the stuff of legend—yet verifiably real.

Mahler’s passion sets in motion a years-long adventure through trackless deserts, steamy jungles, and malarial swamps, as well as a confounding immersion in centuries-old debates over how we should properly regard these powerful predators: as varmints or as icons, trophies or gods? He is drawn from border badlands south to Panama’s rain forest along a route where the fate of nearly all wildlife now rests in human hands. Mahler’s odyssey introduces him to unrepentant poachers, pragmatic ranchers, midnight drug-runners, ardent conservationists, trance-induced shamans, hopeful biologists, stodgy bureaucrats, academic philosophers, macho hunters, and gentle Maya Indians. Along the way, he is forced to reconsider the true meaning of his search—and the enduring symbolism of the jaguar.

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Editorial Reviews

Charles Bowden
“We must decide whether we have room in our lives for life itself. Richard Mahler's obsession with jaguars will convince anyone that we must have them out in the night of our wilder dreams. We need jaguars far more than they need us. They may be heavy, but they're our secretive spotted brothers.”—Charles Bowden, author of Exodus/Éxodo
Kevin Hansen
“Mahler has provided the most comprehensive portrait yet of one of the most elusive felines in the world.”—Kevin Hansen, author of Bobcat: Master of Survival
Carolyn M. Miller
“Richard Mahler is an engaging writer who captures the reader on the first page as he begins his quest to see the magnificent jaguar in the wild. His odyssey leads the reader on an exploration of its colorful and complex cultural history, both ancient and modern, while he explores the farthest reaches of its range from the United States to Brazil, with those that know it best. He truly captures the magic and mystique of this threatened species. I thoroughly enjoyed this book—the pages flew by.”—Carolyn M. Miller, Conservation Management Institute
Alan Rabinowitz
“Spanning a decade of his life, Mahler’s passionate, informative, and intriguing search for the most elusive big cat on earth takes the reader on a dual journey—both internal and external. I love the book.”—Alan Rabinowitz, President and CEO, Panthera, author of Jaguar
Archie Carr III
“Mahler’s urgent quest is twofold: to see and to understand the illusive jaguar. From rainforest to chaparral he goes, and the reader is his enthralled companion; the jaguar his beneficiary.”—Archie Carr III, Wildlife Conservation Society
Sharon Matola
"Will the jaguar still be sharing our world in years to come? Richard Mahler makes a profound contribution towards an ambitious objective: the survival of this majestic predator."—Sharon Matola, founder of the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center
Publishers Weekly
Over the course of 10 years, journalist and tour guide Mahler searched the Western Hemisphere for jaguars, finding recent photographs, claw marks and scat, and captive animals-but never spotted a single wild cat. Though jaguars once roamed from the southwestern U.S. through most of Central and South America, their range and numbers have dwindled to make them nearly invisible. Chronicling his travels, Mahler examines the creatures' contemporary challenges as well as the fossil record, folklore from Incan, Moche, Mayan, and other indigenous cultures, and present attempts to save the species. Mahler is a passionate advocate for environmental protection ("a planet with jaguars is infinitely richer than one without") but knows that he and his fellows are "competing against the human desire for jobs, homes, water, food, land, money, and other resources"). With many photographs, as well as details of travel through little-known territories, Mahler provides a fast-moving, ecological detective tale and a knowing conservationist wake-up call. B&w photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300122251
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/7/2009
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Mahler is an award-winning writer, editor, and tour guide based in Silver City, New Mexico. He is the author or co-author of ten books, and his reporting on the environment, health, travel, arts, and culture also circulates via newspapers, magazines, the Internet, and public radio.

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