The diversity of Indian wildlife is matched equally by the diversity of people’s action to preserve it! Reality is stranger than fiction, and only the wildest imagination of a child is matched by the ten stories in this compilation; a crocodile living harmoniously in your backyard; a leopard is welcomed as the leopard-god, Waghoba in your village; the wolf is your ancestor, a brother, who must have his share of your sheep; feeding 15000 cranes from Mongolia every year for 40 years! And much more.
The eight authors of ten stories have done a beautiful job of keeping the narrative simple without compromising on the complexity of societal constructs, developmental debates, historical and mythological stories of our regions and people. The stories cover a diversity of regions and time, from traditional communities living the values of coexistence to modern conservationists and school children concerned about our loss of biodiversity.
All the ten stories have a diversity of institutional mechanisms to preserve wildlife. The Jain religions motivation to preserve all life results in Ratanlal preserving the Demoiselle Cranes; the Chakhesang community history revers and preserves a forest grove; the legal powers of the Biodiversity Management Committee help them preserve a rare lizard in their village; the turtle walkers, a citizens initiative rescues sea turtles eggs from destruction in a busy city like Chennai. At the same time it reinforces that when the time for an idea has come, individuals make the difference – a group of friends’ nostalgia for their village river in Thoothapuzha, Kerala, created a movement to clean and revive the river and bring back the Ottors; Chennai citizens can save the Olive Ridly turtle from extinction and a young girl and her Eco-club can stop careless hunting in Chizami village, Nagaland.
The illustrations by Nayantara are both, pieces of art as well as provide a glimpse into the cultural milieu of the stories. They lead us into the story without taking away the freedom of the readers imagination.
Even as the ten stories leave me with a sense of hope and positivity for our relationship with wildlife; the book leaves me dissatisfied, it finishes too soon! It certainly calls for a sequel of another ten stories from Kalpavriksh and Parag.
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