Lions in the balance: man-eaters, manes and men with guns.

Lions in the balance: man-eaters, manes and men with guns. Craig Packer.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. Octavo, dustwrapper, black and white photographs.

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. In this book, celebrated lion researcher and conservationist Craig Packer takes us 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.

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