The big cats are some of the most spectacular, iconic apex predators in the world . On the one hand, they inspire fear, wonder and awe in the human psyche , while on the other, they stabilise and help balance the ecological food webs to which they belong .
Alan Rabinowitz – Panthera
This week I received an email from Panthera which reduced me to tears . Even now I cannot describe the images . Except to say : The world’s big cats are endangered as never before . In addition to the existing cruelty and danger , poachers set snares for these magnificent creatures, whose very existence depends on mobility and speed . The images that accompanied the email were heartbreaking . And I decided the least I could do was to write a brief post on the work of Panthera and Dr Alan Rabinowitz .
As a child Rabinowitz was handicapped by a severe stutter . But then his father took him on a visit to Bronx Zoo .And to the Big Cat house . He was fascinated by the big cats . And he found he could talk to them without stuttering . At a very young age he decided he would make the care and protection of big cats his life’s work . And he has . He holds a Ph.D in Wildlife Ecology and has travelled the world on behalf of wildlife conservation .
A Boy And A Jaguar . Dr Alan Rabinowitz . Artist Catia Chien
In 2014 Rabinowitz wrote a book called A Boy and A Jaguar Speak To Children Who Feel Misunderstood . It not only tells Rabinowitz’ story , but speaks to children who feel misunderstood – whether because of stuttering, a disability – or just misunderstood . Rabinowitz found it painful and difficult to write his story .The book went on to win major literary awards . And has helped many young children .
In a line from the book Rabinowitz says : ” I promise if I can ever find my voice, I will be their ( the animals’) voice and keep them from harm .”
A reviewer and teacher wrote the following : ” The message of being a voice for the animals rings loud and clear… The story brings to the forefront the idea that animals don’t have human voices, so their pain and fear is not heard by humans . Readers learn that if they want to stop humans hurting animals then they are the ones who have a responsibility to stop it . The animals are powerless in this respect .” Katrina Fleming, artist, teacher, writer..
Panthera was founded in 2006 and is a non-profit organisation dedicated to saving the big cats . There are a dedicated team led by Rabinowitz, Tom McCarthy, Luke Hunter, Howard Quigley and George Schaller . As above though, ” the animals are powerless .”
Many species are near extinction . Many that live are suffering and struggling to survive . The planet would be sadly diminished without the beauty of the snow leopard, the majesty of the tiger, the roar of the lion echoing across the plains of the Serengeti…
We may not all be able to contribute needed dollars, but knowledge itself is strength . And a class full of children are wonderful in thinking up ideas . Panthera I hope this small personal tribute may help all you are fighting for . Keep on fighting Panthera !