The threat of extinction looms large over many animals. In Can We Save The Tiger?, Martin Jenkins and Vicky White make deft use of word and image to craft a plea for their protection.
This author/illustrator team make us look longer and think harder about our place in the natural world. Jenkins and White’s first book, Ape, was a window into the lives of rare primates. Here they present a panorama of the animal kingdom, and the danger posed to it by humans.
Conservationist Martin Jenkins is our guide through this gallery of the vanished and the vanishing, and we are confronted by humanity’s cruel treatment of the world’s creatures. How we’ve hunted them ruthlessly, destroyed their habitats, exposed them to dangerous predators and poisoned them with chemicals. It makes for sobering reading.
Take the sad tale of the partula snail for instance, which was once found in droves in the Pacific islands. “About a hundred years, ago,” Jenkins tells us, “People brought a different kind of snail to the islands. This was the giant African snail….” The newcomer was good for making snail soup, but it started munching its way through people’s crops. So people introduced a third snail, the rosy euglandina because its favourite food was… other snails. Jenkins relays the sorry consequences: “The rosy euglandinas found the partula snails the most delicious snack and quickly started eating them all up instead. And now there are hardly partula snails left at all.”
Yet Jenkins isn’t in the business of finger-pointing. He’s keen we stay on side.
This is a book that could spark some big discussions with your child. About life, the world, and the animals they share it with. Can we save the tiger? There’s every chance…
White’s eye for detail has been keenly trained – she’s a former zookeeper and has travelled in India and Africa, drawing and painting wild animals. Precise in her use of line and shade, White’s images evoke the intricate sketches made by great naturalist Charles Darwin for his epic catalogue of creatures.
Poring over White’s lifelike illustrations, you get the feeling that you, in turn, are being watched. By the steady, amber eyes of the tiger, whose wild population is now fewer than 2,500 adults. By the beady eyes of the kakapo, a fat, flightless parrot, who numbered just 124 at the last count. By the gentle eye of the Steller’s sea cow, last seen in 1768. Their gaze holds a challenge. Will we pay attention? Will we do something?
Beautiful, informative and poignant, this large hardcover book will have your children dreaming of ways to save their favourites long after they’ve put down the book…
Fun Fact Can you bee-lieve it? Even bees are a threatened species… Endangered or under threat species of bees include eight species in Britain, four species of bumblebee in Ireland and the stingless Melipona beecheii and Melipona Yucatanica of the Americas.