cover image Chasing the Dragon's Tail

Chasing the Dragon's Tail

Alan Rabinowitz. Doubleday Books, $22.5 (241pp) ISBN 978-0-385-41517-0

In 1987 the author, a research zoologist with Wildlife Conservation International, was invited by the Thai government to study endangered animals in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. For two years he tracked leopards, tigers and other big cats in the 1000-square-mile area, capturing and collaring them in order to monitor their movements by radio. Rabinowitz seems to crave risk and adventure, and the story of his hazardous years ``chasing the dragon's tail'' in the Thai forest--which includes encounters with angry poachers, a narrow escape from his own leopard trap, the aftermath of his participation in an opium council--makes engrossing reading. He also reveals much about Thai life and its contradictions, especially the Buddhist philosophy that reveres wild animals and at the same time justifies killing them. His assessment of the prospects for saving the Thai forest and its wildlife is disheartening. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)