A century ago, 100,000 tigers roamed the forests of Asia. Today, only a few thousand remain, thanks to shrinking habitat and a lucrative trade in tiger parts.
Firefly Animal Rescue is a new series of books about endangered and threatened species and what is being done to protect them. It is aimed at readers aged 10 and up with accessible text and color photographs.
Each book introduces readers to a featured animal, explains the threats it is facing, and explores efforts to protect it. Young readers will be inspired by the leading scientists and conservationists who work in the field, in labs and on the public stage. The books conclude with additional resources for those who want to help.
Tiger Rescue takes readers to India, where whole villages are being moved to make room for tigers; to the Russian Far East, where rangers risk their lives to stop poachers supplying the black market in Asian medicines; and to the forests of Malaysia and Sumatra, where farmers and tigers struggle to share the land.
Along the way, some of the world's top tiger conservationists show that hard work and determination can bring this mighty cat back from the brink.
About the Firefly Animal Rescue series:
The Firefly Animal Rescue identifies endangered and threatened species and what is being done to protect them. Combining lively, accessible text and stunning color photographs, each book provides a detailed overview of the species, describing its characteristics, behavior, habits, physiology and more.
"These attractive books are a call to action... fascinating readable accounts."
- School Library Journal
"Succinct introductions to the science and practice of wildlife conservation... written in accessible, lively language."
Dan Bortolotti is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in many magazines, including Equinox, Canadian Geographic, and OWL. He is the author of Exploring Saturn.
King of the Cats
It is both beautiful and terrible. It stalks its prey silently, but defends its kills with a fearsome roar. Its face looks as harmless as a house cat's on cereal boxes and plush toys, while in the wild it makes half-ton mammals flee for their lives. Outside of circuses and zoos, it is a foreign to the Western hemisphere as the kangaroo. And yet the magnificent tiger has found its way into our hearts.
Panthera tigris is the largest of the 38 cat species -- more massive even than the lion, the so-called king of the beasts. Despite a popular misconception, it did not evolve from the extinct Smilodon, or "saber-toothed tiger." The modern tiger originated in eastern Asia about two million years ago, and from there spread to central Asia, the Russian Far East, India and the islands of Indonesia.
Today tiger inhabit many of these same areas, but in dramatically fewer numbers. There may have been more than 100,000 tigers in the wild in 1900. A century later, that number is probably between 5,000 and 7,000. Hunting, habitat destruction and dwindling prey have pushed the wild tiger to the brink of extinction. As recently as the 1990s, many people believed it would not survive into the new millennium.
But survive it has, thanks to the work of scientists, park rangers, government officials and conservationists around the world -- in India, China, Indonesia and Russia, and in many countries where wild tigers have never roamed.
Of course, this is an animal that can kill prey four times its size. No one really expected it would go down without a fight.
King of the cats
Anatomy of a hunt
The tiger trade
Tigers and us: A timeline
ON THE FRONTLINES: Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program
What is the tiger's future?