17 June, 2021

Memorial To The Wild

A former aficionado of the hunt on the need to preserve wildlife

Memorial To The Wild
INDIA is more than the land of the tiger. It's a meeting place for two very different ecologies: the open plain and scrub jungle that once harboured prides of lions and herds of gazelles, and of the animals and plants associated in the mind's eye with the Orient, like the rhino and the Malayan bear. An eye-opener to the wildlife of the rest of Asia. But much of the fauna now survives in small remnant patches protected either by law or by custom. In 1947, there were perhaps as many as 100,000 antelopes in Saurashtra: in a decade, less than one in 20 were left alive.

Against this backdrop, M.K. Ranjitsinh was born and raised in the princely state of Wankaner. With the twilight of the Raj, the princes too faded into the sunset and the author joined the IAS. But the early interest in the wild never seems to have left him. Though he majored in history, he did a doctorate on the blackbuck's ecology.

What is most fascinating is the way in which the tableau of Asia's wildlife unfolds. Each chapter begins with an anecdote about the animal in question: we learn...

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