by Ashlee Brown Blewett,
age 10 and older, 128 pages.
White lions aren’t the only big cats in danger of disappearing in the wild. Hunters are after tan-colored African and Asian lions, too. And humans are moving into land that was once home only to animals.
“Mission: Lion Rescue,” the newest in a series of National Geographic Kids animal rescue books, tells stories of how lions and humans involved in lion conservation are dealing with these threats.
The story of Ma di Tau gives an idea of how the shrinking territory of a pride, or a lion family, can become a deadly threat. Ma di Tau, who filmmakers for the movie “The Last Lions” followed for years, watches as her pride’s male is killed by another pride that’s looking for land in Botswana, Africa. She must move her three cubs out of the area, but she can’t keep them all safe while also looking for food.
“Lion Rescue” puts such stories into a larger context by explaining lion behavior — such as how the animals hunt, play, defend themselves and raise cubs.
The book also explains how a pride is formed and how it changes over time. (Male lions are kicked out at age 3 or 4. By that time, they’re considered old enough to care for themselves.)
Readers are introduced to people who work to protect Africa’s lions. These scientists, teachers, zookeepers and filmmakers have educated people around the world on how and why lions are disappearing.
But the theme of the book is that kids can have a role in saving lions. Several activities encourage kids to learn more about lions and spread the word about the dangers they face.
The activities include creating art that features lions and displaying it where others can see it. Kids can also observe neighborhood cats to get a better idea of how their bigger cousins behave.
The book urges kids to think globally. Two of the filmmakers who are profiled have promised to deliver kids’ letters and drawings to African leaders who can create laws to protect wild lions.
It would be an oversight to write about a National Geographic book without mentioning the photographs. The organization has a long history of capturing amazing photographs, and “Lion Rescue” is no exception. The images, which show lions’ beauty and ferocity, make it difficult to sit by while these creatures disappear from the wild.