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Author: Bittu Sahgal
Publisher: Sanctuary Asia
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788190317146
The high Himalaya verdant peninsular forests sparkling wetlands, mighty rivers, rolling grasslands and productive coasts – we have been blessed with all these and more. There was a time when some people believed that protecting this wealth was an animal rights issue, and testily asked advocates of wildlife conservation: "Are tigers more important than humans?”
Fortunately, no one any longer disputes the fact that floods, droughts and climate change are a direct result of unwise land use – primarily deforestation coupled with uncontrolled industrialization and chemical agriculture. Put another way, ecological destruction inevitably lowers the quality of human life. By contrast, scientists confirm that protecting the natural habitats of the wild animals that have been depicted on these pages is the most efficient, most economical way out of the climate change crisis that threatens to overwhelm us all.
India Naturally seeks to sow seeds of appreciation for the beauty and worth of our nation’s incredible wildernesses. And to communicate that the most valuable assets we can pass on to our children are living forests, clean rivers, healthy soils and a stable climate. In working towards this objective the authors gently point out that those of us lucky to be living in India today will reap the benefit of a revitalized spirit, which is one of the most enduring gifts that nature offers to all who surrender themselves to its magical charm.
India's fabled natural heritage – our rivers, mountains, coasts and forests – has always been a source of inspiration for our people. This was the fount of our culture, art, music, philosophy and religions. Little wonder that our ancestors venerated nature and protected it as life itself.
Across the world, however, the fashions have changed. Few people any longer regard ‘inspiration from nature’ as reward enough to protect Earth's systems. “Wildlife and forests must pay their way,” they say, suggesting that setting aside large parcels of land and sea for posterity amounts to wasting them.
This is an extremely dangerous position to take. Demanding that tigers, elephants and the myriad creatures that share their forest home ‘pay’ their way to survival presumes that money is the most reliable gauge of their true worth. Nothing demonstrates the folly of this stance more dramatically than the fact that while more people are richer today than ever before in human history, humankind itself stands at the precipice with its survival in question.
How did we come to this pass? Because we undervalued ecosystems and sacrificed them consistently for ephemeral gains and, in the process, we managed to destabilize the planet’s climate control mechanisms.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had foreseen this eventuality many years ago. His much-quoted, little-appreciated warning: "The Earth has enough for every man’s need, but not enough for every man's greed,” has come home to roost. Insecurity now stalks us because the things that money can’t buy – fresh air, pure water, fertile sails and peace of mind — are as endangered as the species we seek to protect.
Here then is some food for thought. If we were to divide the planet into two realms – the biosphere (all that nature made – seas, mountains, forests) and the techno sphere (all that humans made – buildings, roads, factories) – then a stark reality presents itself to the intelligent: The techno sphere cannot expand, but at the cost of the biosphere.
Put another way, continuous and never-ending economic growth must inevitably end with us consuming the biosphere, including the plankton in our seas, the insects on the land, and the birds of the forests and the snows of the Himalaya. So is all lost?
Not quite. Fortunately for us, nature is a self-repairing system. Science has demonstrated that, like the cuts and scrapes on our bodies, the wounds we have inflicted on nature can heal – on their own – provided we desist from heaping wound on wound. A large number of people, predominantly the young, instinctively know this. However, though they have a much greater stake in the long-term survival of our planet’s health, they have not found a way to convince us – the elders currently in charge of their world – of this truth.
But they will prevail. They must prevail, or perish. This book is as much a reminder to the elders as it is an exhortation to the young to protect what is precious, to defend it at all costs. As you glance through the images in this book and read the text, both authors urge you to consider adding your strength and purpose to what we believe to be the ultimate ‘Mission Possible’ – to bequeath to our children a living planet.
The Green Heart of India: Window to our soul
Gangotri National Park: The birth place of the Ganges
Valley of Flowers National Park: Where nature blooms
Binsar Wildlife Sanctury: Cradle of life
Rajaji National Park: Pride of Uttrakhand
Corbett Tiger Reserve: Land of trumpet, roar and song
Kanha Tiger Reserve: Kipling country
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve: The tiger’s turf
Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve: Fortress haven for wildlife
Keoladeo Ghana National Park (Bharatpur): Bird paradise
Gir National Park: Last home of the Asiatic lion
Melghat Tiger Reserve: Maharashtra’s tiger stronghold
Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve: Tiger in the heart of India
Bandipur-Nagarahole-Mudumalai: Biosphere in the Nilgiris
Anamalais-Parambikulam: Elephent country
Periyar Tiger Reserve: Tropical Lake forest
Bhitarkanika National Park: Home to the olive ridley marine turtle
Sundarbans Tiger Reserve: the tiger’s waterworld
Kaziranga National Park: Rhino rhapsody
Manas Tiger Reserve: Land of the golden langur
Taley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary: Threatened haven
Lakshadweep: Coral paradise
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands: the emerald isles
Hidden Messages: Footprints in the sands of time
Shoot to Save: Expertise and ethics
Tomorrow’s World: Protecting wild India
Useful Information: Forest Departments & Officials, ITDC, NGOs
List of National Parks and Sanctuaries
Wildlife Travel Tips
Faces behind the Book: Photographers/Writers