Last updated: 16 november, 2010 - 14:39 GMT

A life devoted to big cats

Dr Alan Rabinowitz

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Dr Alan Rabinowitz has been described as 'the Indiana Jones of wildlife conservation.

The 56 year old zoologist has survived 500 mile hikes through pure jungle, plane crashes, and leech attacks, malaria, and countless other difficulties which come with working in the wildest parts of the world.

His mission is to protect endangered species all over the world, and particularly big cats like jaguars, mountain lions, and tigers whose numbers in the wild dwindle each year.

Over the past century, tiger numbers have fallen from about 100 000 to a current estimate of just 3 500.

Despite being diagnosed with an incurable form of leukemia in 2002, Dr Rabinowitz continues to travel the world fighting to protect these majestic creatures.

And earlier this year he guided a team of BBC wildlife cameramen to an astonishing discovery in the Himalayas of Bhutan: that tigers are living as high as 4 000 metres above sea level - a far higher altitude than previously thought.

Alan is President and Chief Executive of an organisation called Panthera, which is dedicated to protecting the world's 36 species of wild cat.

However his achievements are all the more amazing when you learn that he did not utter a complete and uninterrupted sentence until he was 19 years old.

The young Alan Rabinowitz suffered from a crippling stutter, and it was that speech impediment which led him into a life working with animals.

Alan Rabinowitz spoke to Outlook's Matthew Bannister and told him all about his extraordinary life dedicated to big cats.

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