HERE is a book meant for those harbouring a passion for the wilds and even those who hold in awe the natural world. Many of us are familiar with the writings on Nature by Herriot who knew the art of bringing animals ‘to life’ or Gerald Durrell, who wrote the hilarious book My Family and Other Animals. We have had the legendary birdman called Salim Ali who explained the love of the Mughals for wildlife in his book, The Moghul Emperors of India as Naturalists and Sportsmen. Then Jim Corbett, whose name is synonymous with shikar, wrote the bestseller, The Man-eaters of Kumaon.
The present book is a collection of writings of 20 distinguished naturalists, scientists and others whose writings present a true picture of India’s amazing wildlife, which holds not only the enthusiast spellbound, but even the uninitiated who learns about the joys and mysteries of Nature.
M Krishna, a writer and photographer who penned a fortnightly column for The Statesman, has written about the time when he was in service in the Deccan and had the opportunity to study bird and animal life. He did not shoot as he disapproved of all hunting but joined the shikar parties organised outside the state. He sees a pair of chowsingha, the four-horned antelope and the elephants and he goes ga-ga over them. A tusker sauntering with a cow and a young calf comes and stands in front of him, flapping his ears. At a time when naturalists and writers viewed wildlife through the barrel of the gun, FW Champion’s weapon was the camera, though he did ponder if his photography would “interfere with the happiness of wild creatures.”
Valmik Thapar’s love for the tiger is born and nurtured in Ranthambore. He talks of coming across tigers “within a few feet of us as they walked across the lake with the setting sun staring at us and pacing off down the road in front of us,” and it is just not the sight “but the sound as well, with lots of roaring, growling and snorting” that he describes.
Hasmukh Hoslo Jiwa visits the Onge tribe’s village in Andamans & Nicobar where he is lucky enough to see dugongs.
Charudutt Mishra and A Sinha discover a new species of macaque in northeast India, that is, Arunachal Pradesh.
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