05 August, 2021

Sher Khan Needs His Share

Why bell the big cat? Three books explore every facet of the conservation conundrum.

H.V. Praveen Kumar
Sher Khan Needs His Share
That tigers are highly endangered is now old news in this country. The events of the last year, including the disappearance of tigers from Sariska to the contentious tribal rights bill—with every argumentative Indian offering an opinion—have put the big cat on the front page. Can the tiger be saved? And can or can they not coexist with humans? Three new books on the tiger grapple with this question.

Valmik Thapar’s Tiger: The Ultimate Guide is clearly a labour of love. The first part of this coffee-tabler is about the biology of the tiger, and is bolstered by essays by well-known biologists such as Raghunandan Chundawat and Ullas Karanth. Remarkable as these photographs are, and excellent though the essays, the latter half really makes this book unique. Starting with an essay by Romila Thapar on ‘The Cult of the Tiger: In Times Past’, the section covers tigers in the ancient world, in art and literature. Whether as a symbol of power or evil in Mughal miniatures or as an ‘emblem of energy, sexuality and imagination’ in Western literature, the tiger has...

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