Obituary of Alan Rabinowitz

Photo: Kris Krüg

I don’t expect to write many obituaries but could not allow this passing to not be mentioned. Alan Rabinowitz worked for a number of different zoology institutes and other conservation bodies. He was exceptionally good at conservation of big cats. His study of jaguars in Belize led to the creation of the Cookscombe nature reserve (he tells the fascinating story of this project in the book “Jaguar”; as with many of the books I have mentioned it is out print, though can be bought from Amazon second hand).

Another project he was involved in, only 4 years ago, was called “Lost land of the Tiger”, made for the BBC. The series was impressive, and was spent in Bhutan looking for tigers high in the Himalayas. Having found evidence of tigers far higher than had ever been considered,  a suggestion was that with the right decisions and laws to protect tigers in Bhutan a connection between many tiger reserves would be formed creating one super reserve (allowing gene flow).

Whether the work he did with with big cats is going to help save them, certainly it sets up a road map for saving some of the most difficult large predators from extinction.  Difficult to save because not only do they need lots of space but also as meat eaters are hard to live alongside, either because of predation of livestock or in places potentially humans.  However, as keystone species big cat conservation also often saves many other lesser known species as a result.

Alan Rabinowitz has worked with single-minded determination over the last few years having been told he had cancer that was untreatable. There are few conservationists that make such a big impact on the natural world and he will be missed.

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