From flat-topped acacia trees to great migrations of wildebeest across an edgeless expanse of grass, the Serengeti is one of the world's most renowned ecosystems. And at the apex of this incredible landscape prowls its seemingly indomitable ruler: the Serengeti lion. These majestic mammals are skillful hunters, iconic, and integral to Serengeti health. But they also commit infanticide, eat local people and destroy local livelihoods, are a source of profit for those who make money shooting or conserving them (and sometimes both), and are in constant danger from the encroachments of another species: humans. With Lions in the Balance, celebrated lion researcher and conservationist Craig Packer takes us back into the complex, tooth-and-claw worlds of lion conservation and behavior. A sequel to Packer's Into Africa-which gave many readers their first experience of field work in Africa, of Tanzanian roads, of long hours spent identifying lions by their ear marks and scars, and of the joys of bootlegged Grateful Dead tapes beneath savannah moons-this diary-based chronicle of adventure, real-life danger, and corruption will both alarm and entertain.
Packer's story offers a look into the future of the lion, one in which the politics of conservation will require survival strategies far more creative and powerful than any now possessed by the citizens of the savannah-humans included. Packer is sure to infuriate poachers, politicians, and conservationists alike as he minces no words about the problems he sees. But with a narrative stretching from Arusha to Washington, DC, and marked by Packer's signature humor and incredible candor, Lions in the Balance is a tale of courage against impossible odds, a masterly blend of science and storytelling, and an urgent call to action that will captivate a pride of readers.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 440
Weight: 630 g
Dimensions: 234 x 161 x 20 mm
"Packer duly sets out to change the system, a lone maverick of sober-minded regulatory reform. . . . Lions in the Balance is itself a story about a loss of faith, and Packer's anti-romanticism is such that there is no ameliorative lesson to take from his exhausting, decades-long quest to reform a practice that will not be reformed. Hunters will not self-regulate; Tanzania's bureaucracy will not be tamed. Cattle ranchers will continue to kill lions and destroy habitats. . . . It's bracing, reading the end of Packer's text, to watch him wrestle with his own impotence. Exhausted, he sobs in front of his son, afraid for his own safety and that of his family. The Tanzanian government eventually forces him to abandon the Serengeti. In his quest to restructure incentives, in his willingness to take the long view, in his commitment to numbers over narrative, Packer deems himself 'ultimately alone.' As it seems he is."--Kerry Howley "New Yorker "
"Lions in the Balance mixes episodes of spy novel intrigue with detailed descriptions of scientific studies and PowerPoint presentations."--Erica Goode "New York Times "
"Both timely and thrilling, this expose/memoir details the complexity (and moral ambiguity) of trophy-hunting. . . . Zigzagging through Tanzania, Kenya, and Mozambique, Packer takes us to backroom meetings at the Tanzania Wildlife Division's Ivory Room, gala dinners given by foreign hunting organizations, and out in the field to track lions. . . . What makes this book so engaging is the writing. Lions in the Balance is far from a dry dissertation; at times, it reads like a political thriller. . . . Packer has written a fascinating book exploring some controversial and emotional subjects. . . . Readers will come away from Lions in the Balance with a better understanding of the benefits and consequences of trophy hunting, as well as who wants lions, who doesn't, and why."--Christine Baleshta "Washington Independent Review of Books "
"There is only one Craig Packer; he ploughs his own furrow. Packer's work on lions and the Serengeti ecosystem . . . and his confrontations with officialdom will be familiar to most who have worked with (or read of) wildlife and conservation in Africa, but the Savannas Forever program was uniquely ambitious. Packer tells its story with unusual candor, laying out the facts, pulling no punches, revealing the corruption he observed in his dealings with the hunting fraternity in Tanzania--both among the operators themselves, and at all levels of government. Specific incidences are cited; the names of those involved are given. . . . The writing is highly commendable (even enviable!), the science and personal experience episodes beautifully done. I know of no other book like Lions in the Balance."--John Reader "author of "Africa: A Biography of the Continent" "