Washington, DC (September 2, 2014) – From an early age, big cat expert Alan Rabinowitz has been enchanted by the majestic jaguar. Known mostly for its audacity, strength, and wariness, the species has proved to be a survivor. In An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar, Rabinowitz shares this animal’s fascinating history, its distinctiveness from other big cats and the complex factors that have enabled it to endure cultural changes, continental divides, and centuries of human development.
Rabinowitz begins the book by describing a powerful boyhood encounter with a jaguar that sparked his lifelong connection to the species and ultimately led him to explore not only the remarkable science of this big cat but also the interactions between humans and jaguars over centuries.
Delving into the deep paleohistory of the jaguar, Rabinowitz recounts powerful stories of the respect and value ancient civilizations like the Maya and Aztec placed on the jaguar for its mystical qualities. That reverence was the origin of what he calls the Jaguar Cultural Corridor, a pathway of cultural beliefs that effectively safeguarded the cat and ensured its survival. But as new cultures settled into this area, spiritual devotion to the jaguar abated, widespread agricultural development eradicated its primary habitat, and more-efficient hunting practices were developed, the jaguar began to face potential extinction.
Nearly two decades after establishing the first jaguar preserve in the Cockscomb Basin of Belize, Rabinowitz returned to fight for the jaguar. In the early stages of planning what that fight would entail, he had a “light-bulb” moment when he grasped the implications of significant new research about the jaguar’s DNA and how epigenetics could affect the species’ future survival.
Rabinowitz realized that his conservation efforts needed to expand dramatically in order to achieve his goal. In An Indomitable Beast, he details how extensive mapping, jaguar observations, and interviews with local peoples suggested that his effort must include not only protecting land but connecting spaces between populations to ensure genetic diversity. The result was a large-scale conservation strategy unlike any before—the Jaguar Corridor Initiative extending from Mexico to Argentina.
From tracking jaguars through the jungle to navigating disagreements with landholders and meeting with heads of state, Rabinowitz offers engaging stories of his quest to save this magnificent species. He offers a peek inside the world of the jaguar and details the biological, cultural, and political factors shaping its past and future. Although it is known for its power and ferocity, Rabinowitz deems the jaguar a “reluctant warrior” and details how this instinct to flee rather than fight is its strongest weapon when engaging with humans.
An Indomitable Beast is a gripping tale filled with meticulous research, cutting-edge science, and a journey into the world of the jaguar that illuminates how nature and humans can coexist. The book reveals the secrets of “jaguarness” and shows how cutting-edge science coupled with a new conservation paradigm not only ensures the jaguar’s survival but holds the key to humanity’s as well.
Alan Rabinowitz, one of the world’s leading experts on big cats, is CEO of Panthera, a nonprofit organization devoted to saving wild cat species. For almost thirty years Rabinowitz was based at the Wildlife Conservation Society serving in the last few years as executive director of the Science and Exploration Division and Big Cat Programs. The author of six previous books, Rabinowitz has been profiled in numerous publications and featured in television specials and movies.