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 by war and 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.
Head over to Archimedes Notebook for another book focusing on predator-prey interactions.
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