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India’s Wildlife History

India’s Wildlife History looks at the landmark events that have shaped or influenced the country’s wildlife past.

In a brief and concise account, the author manages to gel together turning points that have led to the deterioration of our wildlife and their habitats. Valmik Thapar in his foreword says,"To understand the crisis of today we must read and learn about what India went through over the centuries. It is only through a comprehensive understanding of our past that we can even begin to deal with our present." India's Wildlife History bridges the country's ecological past and present in a simple style that goes beyond a mere stating of facts. It analyses how wildlife has been protected and exploited since ancient times, talks of the people who have played an important role, discusses forest communities and the various aspects of wildlife conservation.

Beginning with references to the 'wild and dangerous' found in the Ramayana, Vedas and other literature, the book also looks at the impact of hunting during the Mughal period and the Raj era. The author takes us through the gradual move to 'royal hunting preserves', the change in views of big game hunters such as Jim Corbett and the shift from gun to camera. Rangarajan also talks of some of Independent India's naturalists, the slow and gradual change in attitudes towards wildlife, Project Tiger's initial success and the present wildlife crisis. Alternative models that focus on community-based conservation are also discussed. 'Pessimism, though tempting, is misleading. The past does give ground for hope.

Few imagined the rhino in Assam or the lions of Gir forest would survive the twentieth century. Custom and faith provide a protective shield for hundreds of gazelles and antelopes around Bishnoi villages in northwestern India... Simultaneously, growing human numbers, changing lifestyles and the expanding productive base of the economy are all sources of new threats to natural diversity. The wildlife of the country is more than an aesthetic asset, a resource to be tapped by science or a cultural heritage. Its existence is a sign of the efficacy of natural cycles of renewal, of the close links between the forests, soils and waters that make the land habitable and livable."

By Mahesh Rangarajan
Published by: Permanent Black, Hardcover; Price: Rs. 250/-

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