Wednesday, July 8, 2015

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Chasing Cheetahs by Sy Montgomery


 Since the year 1900, cheetah footprints quickly dwindled in African dirt as the species plummeted from more than 100,000 to fewer than 10,000. At the Cheetah Conservation Fund's (CCF) African headquarters in Namibia, Laurie Marker and her team save these stunning, swift, and slender creatures from extinction. Since the organization's start in 1990, they've rescued more than 900 cheetahs, most of whom have been returned to the wild.

     But this arduous challenge continues. For most African livestock farmers, cheetahs are the last thing they want to see on their properties. In the 1980s, as many as 19 cheetahs per farmer died each year. Cheetahs were considered vermin--but, in learning more about this magnificent species, we know this is far from true.

     Today, CCF acts as a liaison between the farmers and the cheetahs, in order to promote cohabitation in an ecosystem that cannot thrive without the existence of the precious and predatory cheetah. On a wild ride through the African wilderness--sometimes sniffing out scents left in the dirt--Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop join CCF in studying the cheetah's ecological, genetic, and behavioral patterns in order to chase down the fastest animal on land and save the species--before it is too late.


I am a huge fan of the Scientists in the Field series by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  They are not only fascinating but well designed with gorgeous photographs.  Chasing Cheetahs did not disappoint, it's as high in quality as its predecessors.  With the growing emphasis on STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math) in the education field, these books are a great help in that endeavor.  This book takes a look at the work of the Cheetah Conservation Fund's work in Namibia, Africa in saving cheetahs.  The work done by Laurie Marker and her associates has clearly made a difference, but like all conservation stories there is still much to be done as Montgomery clearly shows.  I found it absolutely intriguing to read about the things the CCF is doing to help the species.  The strategies they are using are clearly explained and demonstrated in the book which shows the power of science in action.  I for one found the stories about different cheetahs and the way the scientists study them and share what they've learned with local farmers and school children as well as with colleagues worldwide makes for a great story.  This book is very readable with lots of gorgeous photographs to highlight the text.  A wonderful addition to a great series.

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