One of the things I like about this author/photographer combination is that they always do something a little different, even when writing in the confines of a series. The focus of the text is never quite what you expect, the photographs catch you unawares with their beauty and subject matter.
In this book, the authors introduce us to a team of scientists and local activities working to study tapirs and save them and their habitat. The particular focus of this group is a trip that focuses on tagging and tracking tapirs on a ranch in Brazil. While this book includes a lot of information about tapirs and the current efforts to save them, it had a more intimate feel, a focus on the scientists and everyday people involved that I feel has been missing from some of the latest Scientists in the Field titles. One of the things I really appreciate about the SitF series is that they talk not just about the important scientists, but the local people who are also involved in the project. So they profile not just the team leader and other scientists but also the field assistant, a local who had to quit school at 8th grade but uses his trapping skills learned as a child to help trap the animals, the darting specialist, who doesn't like to hunt and darts animals instead and the ranchers who own the ranch where the tapirs and many other wildlife live.
As always, Nic Bishop's photographs are marvelous. They capture not only the tapirs and the scientific expedition in all it's dirt, wonder, and exhaustion, but also the beauty of the Pantanal area. From the exquisite detail of the hairs inside a marsh deer's ears to a troop of coatis, tails held high, the wildlife and landscape is awesomely pictured.
Verdict: I'm excited all over again about distributing this to my patrons, not least because they will recognize some of the animals from our live animal program every summer, featuring Diego the coati! It's warm and human with hope and beauty - and lots of information about tapirs and their habitat. Highly recommended.