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 ...

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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

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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