Alan Rabinowitz

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Alan Robert Rabinowitz
Alan Rabinowitz - PopTech 2010 - Camden, Maine (5103727234).jpg
at the PopTech 2010.
Born December 31, 1953
Brooklyn, New York
Nationality United States
Fields Biologist,
Institutions CEO of Panthera
Alma mater Western Maryland College University of Tennessee
Thesis The ecology of the raccoon (Procyon lotor) in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1981)
Known for Wild cat conservation
Notable awards International Wildlife Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award (2008)[1]

Alan Robert Rabinowitz (born December 31, 1953) is an American zoologist, conservationist, field biologist and the CEO of Panthera, a nonprofit conservation organization devoted to protecting the world's 37 wild cat species. Called the "Indiana Jones of Wildlife Protection" by Time, Rabinowitz has studied jaguars, clouded leopards, Asiatic leopards, tigers, Sumatran rhinos, bears, leopard cats, raccoons, and civets.[2] Today, Rabinowitz’s work focuses on conserving the world’s largest, most imperiled cats—tigers, lions, jaguars, and snow leopards—and their habitats.[3]

Early life[edit]

Rabinowitz grew up in Brooklyn, New York. In grade school, he was placed in a special education class due to a severe stutter; which often caused his body to twist and spasm when attempting to speak.[4] Unable to communicate with his peers and teachers, Rabinowitz became interested in wildlife, to which he could speak. At this point, Rabinowitz made a promise to animals that if he ever found his voice, he would use it to speak in their defense.[5]

Today, Rabinowitz frequently shares this childhood story in interviews, lectures, books and other publications to explain how he became interested in wildlife conservation.[6] [7] In 2008, the video of Rabinowitz telling this story on the Colbert Report went viral.[8] Today, Rabinowitz serves as a spokesperson for the Stuttering Foundation (SFA).[9]

Conservation career[edit]

In 1974, Rabinowitz received his bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) in Westminster, Maryland. Rabinowitz later attended the University of Tennessee, receiving his M.S. and Ph.D. in ecology in 1978 and 1981, respectively.

Prior to co-founding Panthera with the organization's Chairman, Thomas Kaplan, in 2006, Rabinowitz served as the Executive Director of the Science and Exploration Division for the Wildlife Conservation Society, where he worked for nearly 30 years.

While working in Myanmar's Hukaung Valley in 1997, Rabinowitz discovered four new species of mammals, including the most primitive deer species in the world, Muntiacus putaoensis, or the leaf deer.[10] Rabinowitz's work in Myanmar led to the creation of five new protected wildlife areas, including the country's first marine park, Lampi Island National Park; Myanmar's first and largest Himalayan national park, Hkakabo Razi National Park; the country's largest wildlife sanctuary, Hukaung Valley Wildlife Sanctuary; the world's largest tiger reserve and one of the largest protected areas in the world, Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve, and Hponkhan Razi National Park, an area which connects Hukaung Valley and Hkakabo Razi for a contiguous protected area of more than 5,000 square miles, called the Northern Forest Complex.[11]

Rabinowitz also established the world's first jaguar sanctuary [5] — the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve— in Belize and the Tawu Mountain Nature Reserve, Taiwan's largest protected area and last piece of intact lowland forest.[12] In Thailand, he conducted the first field research on Indochinese tigers, Indochinese leopards, and Asian leopard cats, leading to the designation of the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary as a UNESCO world biosphere reserve.[13]

One of Rabinowitz's greatest achievements was the conceptualization and implementation of the Jaguar Corridor,[14] a series of biological and genetic corridors for jaguars across their entire range from Mexico to Argentina. Rabinowitz also initiated Panthera's Tiger Corridor Initiative, an effort to identify and protect the world's last remaining large interconnected tiger landscapes, with a primary focus on the remote and rugged Indo-Himalayan region of Asia.[15]

Rabinowitz's project to establish a chain of protected tiger habitat across the southern Himalaya was the focus of the BBC Natural History Unit's 2010 documentary series Lost Land of the Tiger. An expedition team spent a month investigating the status of big cats in Bhutan, leading to the discovery of tigers living at much higher altitudes than previously realized.[16]

Today, Rabinowitz serves as the CEO of Panthera, where he oversees the organization's range-wide conservation programs focused on tigers, lions, jaguars, and snow leopards and additional projects devoted to the protection of cougars, cheetahs, and leopards.[17]


As a distinguished leader within the conservation field, Rabinowitz has received numerous wildlife awards, including:

2004: Our Time Theatre Company Award[18]

2004: Lowell Thomas Award – New York Explorer’s Club[19]

2005: George Rabb Conservation Award – Chicago Zoological Society[20]

2005: Flying Elephant Foundation Award[21]

2006: Kaplan Big Cat Lifetime Achievement Award[22]

2008: International Wildlife Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award[1]

2010: Cincinnati Zoo Wildlife Conservation Award

2011: Jackson Hole Lifetime Achievement Award in Conservation[23]


Year Title
1986/2000 Jaguar: One Man’s Struggle to Establish the First Jaguar Preserve.[24]
1991/2002 Chasing the Dragon’s Tail: The Struggle to Save Thailand’s Wild Cats.[25]
2001 Beyond the Last Village: A Journey of Discovery in Asia’s Forbidden Wilderness.[26]
2005 People and Wildlife: Conflict or Coexistence?[27]
2008 Life in the Valley of Death: The Fight to Save Tigers in a Land of Guns, Gold, and Greed.[28]
2014 An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar.


  1. ^ a b "International Wildlife Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Awards". 
  2. ^ Walsh, Bryan (2008-01-10). "The Indiana Jones of Wildlife Protection". Time. 
  3. ^ Matthew Bannister (2010-11-16). "A life devoted to big cats". BBC World Service, 24-minute interview on "Outlook". Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  4. ^ Rabinowitz, Alan (2011-02-22). "Human Factor: 'Animals saved me'". CNN. 
  5. ^ a b Dreifus, Claudia (2007-12-18). "Zoologist Gives a Voice to Big Cats in the Wilderness". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ "Stuttering and the Big Cats is an Inspirational Story". The Stuttering Foundation. 201-04-18.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Tippet, Krista (2010-07-22). "A Voice for the Animals". American Public Media. 
  8. ^ "Alan Rabinowitz on The Colbert Report". The Colbert Report. 2008-06-10. 
  9. ^ "Alan Rabinowitz Ph.D., explorer, wildlife conservationist and author". The Stuttering Foundation. 
  10. ^ Rabinowitz, A.; Myint, Than (1999). "Description of the leaf deer, Muntiacus putaoensis, a new species of muntjac from northern Myanmar". Journal of Zoology (The Zoological Society of London) 249 (04): 427–435. doi:10.1017/s095283699900984x. 
  11. ^ Alan Rabinowitz's Fight of His Life. National Geographic. Retrieved 16 August 2013
  12. ^ Guynup, Sharon (2011), The Jaguar Freeway (October 2011), Smithsonian, pp. 48–57 
  13. ^ "Alan Rabinowitz, PhD". Panthera. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "Jaguar Corridor Initiative". Panthera. 
  15. ^ "Tiger Corridor Initiative". Panthera. 
  16. ^ Walker, Matt (2010-09-20). "Lost tiger population discovered in Bhutan mountains". BBC Earth News. 
  17. ^ "Panthera's Programs". Panthera. 
  18. ^ "Our Time Theatre Company Honors Dr. Alan Rabinowitz". 
  19. ^ "The Lowell Thomas Award". 
  20. ^ "Honoring a Leader". 
  21. ^ "Flying Elephant Fellows". 
  22. ^ "Rabinowitz-Kaplan Prize for Excellence in Cat Conservation". 
  23. ^ "2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, Jackson Hole Film Festival". 
  24. ^ Rabinowitz, A (1986–2000). Jaguar: One Man’s Struggle to Establish the First Jaguar Preserve. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. ISBN 978-1-55963-802-9. 
  25. ^ Rabinowitz, A (1991–2000). Chasing the Dragon’s Tail: The Struggle to Save Thailand’s Wild Cats. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. ISBN 978-1-55963-980-4. 
  26. ^ Rabinowitz, A (2001). Beyond the Last Village: A Journey of Discovery in Asia’s Forbidden Wilderness. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. ISBN 978-1-55963-800-5. 
  27. ^ Woodroffe, R; Thirgood, S.; Rabinowitz, A (2005). People and Wildlife: Conflict or Coexistence?. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-53203-7. Retrieved 1 December 2011. 
  28. ^ Rabinowitz, A (2008). Life in the Valley of Death: The Fight to Save Tigers in a Land of Guns, Gold, and Greed. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. ISBN 978-1-59726-129-6. 

External links[edit]