Friday, February 17, 2017

Predators, Prey, and Conservation

Rise of the Lioness: restoring a habitat and its pride on the Liuwa Plains
by Bradley Hague
56 pages; ages 8-12
National Geographic Children's Books, 2016

The Liuwa Plains are in Western Zambia - a perfect habitat for zebras, wildebeests, and lions. Back in 1972, the plains were declared a national park. But as the 20th century drew to a close, the plains were radically changed:
  • cultural traditions that protected the environment were stripped away.
  • the food chain was devastates.
  • years of war led to increased poaching.

In less than a single human generation, Liuwa's ecosystem collapsed and by 2003, when peace finally settled, there was only one lion left: a lioness called Lady.

The thing about animals is that they don't just live in their environments; they shape them, too. And the Liuwa Plains without its top predators was "the environmental equivalent of tearing down a dam or blowing up a road," writes Hague. The loss of the lions created a trophic cascade, affecting the behavior of almost every animal in the habitat.

This book follows the scientists who studied Lady and figured out how to rebuild the local ecosystem. That meant reintroducing animals, including lions - easier said than done. But after many years, the Liuwa ecosystem was restored. This is a story of perseverance, patience, and pride.

If you're interested in learning more about predator and prey interactions check out:

Explore Predators and Prey! with 25 great projects
by Cindy Blobaum
96 pages; ages 7-10
Nomad Press, 2016

After introducing what predators are, and their prey, this book jumps right into strategies for hunting  and hiding. If you don't want to be eaten you might try camouflaging yourself, or disguising yourself with odors.

If you're a predator you might adopt certain strategies, such as stalking, or use tactics like echolocation. Or you might wait in ambush to attack some unwary snack walking by.

Every chapter is loaded with hands-on activities to try, and lots of fun facts, new words, and even a few jokes.

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. Review copies provided by publishers.

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