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Oxford Anthology of Indian Wildlife

In today's scenario, shikar has no relevance as a modern sport but it remains an important part of Indian culture and history. This anthology, first of a two-volume set, brings together wildlife writings from the days of the Raj spanning 150 years.

Edited by Mahesh Rangarajan, an environmentalist and political analyst of repute, the essays travel through time and geography sketching interesting pictures of a bygone era. Volume I opens with some shocking statistics of the Maharaja of Sarguja who killed over 1,100 tigers, 2,000 leopards, two lions and even a cheetah.

It moves on to riveting accounts of lion shoots, bustard hunts, wild buffalo encounters, elephant catching, cheetah traps and man-eating tigers. Each story is rich with insights into the ecology of the region. The book also covers accounts of hunts by tribals and the different techniques used by them. Man-eaters are represented in the last section with Jim Corbett, Kenneth Anderson and R.P. Noronha chronicling some of their encounters across India. In an interesting essay at the end, A.J.T. Johnsingh and G.S. Rawat discuss how the land has changed since Corbett's time as they follow the same hunting-trail that Jim Corbett took way back in 1938. In Volume II: 'Watching and Conserving'(Rs. 450), the focus of the writing shifts from conquest to conservation.

In this volume the essays reveal a gradual but perceptible shift from trigger-happy hunters to a new breed of naturalists. The writings span the bridge between the shikari past and the new-age conservationist and include writings of contemporary wildlifers and conservationists. On the whole this two-volume anthology is a welcome addition to the wildlife conservation arsenal.
By Mahesh Rangarajan, Published by: Oxford University Press, Hardcover; Rs. 545/-

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