The Goan Jungle Book
February 2011: A small, unobtrusive book, The Goan Jungle Book nevertheless provides a wealth of information on a rich biodiversity section of the Western Ghats in Goa that is little known and even less appreciated. Though Goa is blessed with mega fauna including the tiger, leopard, wild dog and gaur, the author has very intentionally chosen to focus his attention on the ‘lesser’ life forms.
It’s a good choice and an easy read. In the author’s words: “The love for lesser-known species has an advantage: you don’t have to go out in the wild to see these creatures. Your backyard or the hillock near your home could be a good spot to check them out.”
Having grown up in Mapusa, Goa, Kulkarni’s love for and comfort with the surrounds he writes about is palpable. An ecologist of good standing, he is also an excellent photographer. It is this combination of pen and camera that India needs if it is to bring remote places alive so that public opinion can protect them from the retinue of miners, dam builders and sundry developers and their camp-followers in state administrations and politics.
Within this tiny book the author has managed to cover a lot of ground to include cobras, pit vipers, weaver ants, Sri Lankan Frogmouths, crocodiles, slender lorises and even olive Ridley turtles described by him as ‘Goa’s oldest tourists’!
Kulkarni is one among a group of quiet conservationists in Goa who are working towards the proposition that an interstate tiger reserve between Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra would not only go far in protecting the cats, but also in shoring up the water and climate security of the region.
THE GOAN JUNGLE BOOK
By Nirmal Kulkarni
Published by Herpactive Publications,
Soft cover, 109 colour pages, Price: not mentioned.
Reviewed by Bittu Sahgal