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A Cameo

M.K. Ranjitsinh

By Valmik Thapar  . Photographs by Amita Chhabra and Sanjana Kapoor
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2012, pp.861, Rs.1750.00


There has been no greater PR person for the tiger in India than Valmik Thapar.The jacket of the book mentions that he has written 22 books on the tiger, all very well illustrated and mostly covering Rantham-bhore, which is where his fascination for the animal started 35 years ago. Tigers in the Emerald Forest is a cameo on the postrain period in Ranthambhore, after an exceptional monsoon last year. As is to be expected, the book is replete with photographs of the greenery and of animals with a green backdrop, mostly of very good quality. Apart from the tigers, it covers the fort, flowers, birds, reptiles and other animals. Particularly noteworthy are pictures of the Sambar with a treepie and in dappled sunlight (p. 67). There is also an excellent photograph of a tiger marking a tree at full stretch. One would have wished for some photographs of butterflies, for monsoon is their season and perhaps some more close-ups of birds, during this their breeding season. The most interesting portrayal is of a male tiger with his large cubs of both sexes, which the father is reported to have brought up in the absence of the mother. The postscript of the book documents the father-cub association even in January 2012 and one hopes that the subsequent events of this unique occurrence would also be documented. The photographs are accompanied by a graphic diary, describing the park visits during the period in question and interesting data on Ranthambhore. But perhaps the most important text is the Epilogue. It mentions the crucial altruism—that if places like Ranthambhore and others are to survive, ‘they require a rare breed of people with passion and committed political leaders—will such leadership emerge to save such places?’ The author is very supportive of tourism in Ranthambhore and other protected areas, pointing out its benefits and the examples of parks in Africa where tourism has contributed so beneficially. This is a controversial and an emotive topic. If parks and sanctuaries have to survive in the long term, they have to have public support, which can best be obtained when people can relate to these Protected Areas, which in turn can best be obtained when people visit these places and come to cherish them. However, one axiom has to be borne constantly in mind, in both letter and spirit—that tourism has to be for the parks and not that ...

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