17 June, 2021

On The Forest's Edge

Sights and sounds of the Nilgiris come alive in a crusader's tale

On The Forest's Edge
AT a time when the wilderness is vanishing and wildlife is in peril, E.R.C. Davidar is both a crusader for conservation and an explorer of the worlds of natural India. His home for decades, picturesquely and appropriately named Cheetal Walk for the spotted deer, brought him in close contact with a range of large and small denizens of the forests of southern India. As a shikari, he was already familiar with how to trail a tiger or shoot at a bison. But it is as a keen observer of wild animals in general and of the little known Nilgiri tahr (ibex) that he is known in conservation circles. Here, for the first time, the general reader has a glimpse into the sights and sounds of the forest and of his fascinating experience across the decades.

Much of his tale has an all-too-familiar ring about it. When he first made his home in Cheetal Walk, tigers were common. Elephants moved on their age-old treks from one range of forested hills to another. It was possible to see hyenas easily and the incursions on the forests, though not absent, were still relatively light. Davidar was...

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