The Jaguar's Shadow (Hardcover)

Searching for a Mythic Cat

By Richard Mahler

Yale University Press, 9780300122251, 376pp.

Publication Date: September 7, 2009

List Price: 27.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


In the tradition of Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard, an intimate portrait of the endangered, exotic, and elusive jaguar

When the nature writer Richard Mahler discovers that wild jaguars are prowling a remote corner of his home state of New Mexico, he embarks on a determined quest to see in the flesh a big, beautiful cat that is the stuff of legend—yet verifiably real.

Mahler’s passion sets in motion a years-long adventure through trackless deserts, steamy jungles, and malarial swamps, as well as a confounding immersion in centuries-old debates over how we should properly regard these powerful predators: as varmints or as icons, trophies or gods? He is drawn from border badlands south to Panama’s rain forest along a route where the fate of nearly all wildlife now rests in human hands. Mahler’s odyssey introduces him to unrepentant poachers, pragmatic ranchers, midnight drug-runners, ardent conservationists, trance-induced shamans, hopeful biologists, stodgy bureaucrats, academic philosophers, macho hunters, and gentle Maya Indians. Along the way, he is forced to reconsider the true meaning of his search—and the enduring symbolism of the jaguar.

About the Author

Richard Mahler is an award-winning writer, editor, and tour guide based in Silver City, New Mexico. He is the author or co-author of ten books, and his reporting on the environment, health, travel, arts, and culture also circulates via newspapers, magazines, the Internet, and public radio.

Praise For The Jaguar's Shadow: Searching for a Mythic Cat

“We must decide whether we have room in our lives for life itself. Richard Mahler's obsession with jaguars will convince anyone that we must have them out in the night of our wilder dreams. We need jaguars far more than they need us. They may be heavy, but they're our secretive spotted brothers.”—Charles Bowden, author of Exodus/Éxodo

— Charles Bowden

“Mahler has provided the most comprehensive portrait yet of one of the most elusive felines in the world.”—Kevin Hansen, author of Bobcat: Master of Survival

— Kevin Hansen

“Richard Mahler is an engaging writer who captures the reader on the first page as he begins his quest to see the magnificent jaguar in the wild.  His odyssey leads the reader on an exploration of its colorful and complex cultural history, both ancient and modern, while he explores the farthest reaches of its range from the United States to Brazil, with those that know it best.  He truly captures the magic and mystique of this threatened species. I thoroughly enjoyed this book—the pages flew by.”—Carolyn M. Miller, Conservation Management Institute

— Carolyn M. Miller

“Spanning a decade of his life, Mahler’s passionate, informative, and intriguing search for the most elusive big cat on earth takes the reader on a dual journey—both internal and external. I love the book.”—Alan Rabinowitz, President and CEO, Panthera, author of Jaguar

— Alan Rabinowitz

“Mahler’s urgent quest is twofold: to see and to understand the illusive jaguar.  From rainforest to chaparral he goes, and the reader is his enthralled companion; the jaguar his beneficiary.”—Archie Carr III, Wildlife Conservation Society

— Archie Carr III

"Will the jaguar still be sharing our world in years to come? Richard Mahler makes a profound contribution towards an ambitious objective: the survival of this majestic predator."—Sharon Matola, founder of the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center

— Sharon Matola