The Lion Queens of India

By The Horn Book

Gir Wildlife Sanctuary’s first female forest ranger and original “Lion Queen,” Rashila Vadher, narrates this compelling introduction to her life’s work. The sanctuary is home to more than five hundred Asiatic lions—the only wild population left in the world—and a key part of the Lion Queens’ mission is raising awareness about the plight of this endangered species, which faced near-extinction in the early 1900s. Reynolds’s effectively organized presentation appropriately centers conservation as well. The rangers’ duties include patrolling sections of the forest to track lions (and poachers) and providing medical care when necessary. They also work with neighboring villages to educate inhabitants about lions’ importance in the forest ecosystem and the necessity of maintaining the “natural balance of the forest.” Weighing human and animal needs is a constant for the Lion Queens: “how can humans and animals both thrive, living near each other and competing for the same resources?” Vadher’s passion for her work, respect for the lions, and commitment to education come through in the conversational text and many well-chosen photos (some taken by the author); a welcoming page design helps engage readers in the narrative—which has a lot to offer a wide range of interests. In an author’s note, Reynolds talks more about Vadher’s experiences and about her own visit to the sanctuary. A bibliography is appended.