Tiger Forever

Julia Worcester, our MUTTS.com Youth Correspondent, has brought us many great posts over the past several years. She’s back with a review of Review of Tigers Forever: Saving the World’s Most Endangered Big Cat (Steve Winter, Sharon Guynup, National Geographic and Panthera, 2013). We are honored to have her contribution!

Tigers are in trouble. At the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 100,000 tigers roamed throughout Asia, from the humid jungles of India and Sumatra to the snow-covered boreal forests of Siberia. Now, only 3,000 wild tigers remain. The rest have been poached for their body parts and beautiful fur, killed in retaliation for eating livestock, and pushed to the brink of extinction by the constant destruction of the forests they need in which to hunt and survive. More tigers are kept in captivity than live in the wild. It is estimated that there are more than 12,000 tigers in the United States. In the state of Texas alone there are 3,000 tigers, as many as exist in the wild. The situation is dire, and even after decades of conservation work in the field and in meetings and conferences around the world, the tiger continues to inch closer to extinction.

Tigers Forever, a new book published by Panthera and National Geographic, is the latest in a series of powerful messages that call on people to do what they can to help save the most iconic animal on earth from extinction. With partners the likes of Panthera and National Geographic, it is not surprising that this is the most beautiful and convincing message yet. Panthera is the only international nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the world’s 37 species of wild cats.

This coffee table-sized book is stunning to look at, with a decade’s worth of photographs by Steve Winter, Panthera’s Director of Media and an acclaimed National Geographic photographer. Winter and Sharon Guynup have worked together to combine breathtaking photographs and text about tigers. The book contains forewords by J. Michael Cline and Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, two of the people who have created the most successful tiger conservation program to date, Panthera’s Tigers Forever program. Dr. George Schaller, a man many consider to be the grandfather of wildlife conservation, wrote the introduction to the book. With the help of Winter’s stunning photographs and Guynup’s vivid writing, the reader travels through Asia from Myanmar, Sumatra, and Thailand, and finally to India, which contains the largest population of tigers left in the wild.

This book is a passionate and convincing call for help. It is not simply a book about a beautiful and endangered animal, it is a book that looks humans straight in the eye and asks us how we can let the natural world, and its most beautiful creatures, die without lifting a finger to stop it. As Dr. Rabinowitz says, “The tiger is in desperate straits. The world watches from the stands as perhaps the most iconic species on the planet slides inexorably toward extinction, not because we are incapable of saving it, but because we appear stymied by human behavior that values the idea of the tiger more than the animal itself.”

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