A fascinating read of true jungle stories that take you on an enchanting ride through the forests of India.
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The Vanishing Stripes is about the tiger in India. This magnificent feline needs no special introduction—we have known it as “bagh” since ages. Our links with this animal stand very strong with the religious symbolism and folklore about tiger being commonplace in Indian culture.
India had a sizeable tiger population about two centuries ago but the sport of tiger hunting, which was very dear to the British officers and local royalty, almost decimated it. This scenario continued even after independence till the late sixties. Then came the Wildlife Protection Act in 1970 prohibiting “shikar,” followed by Project Tiger in 1973 to save the tiger in its habitat. Since then, the tiger has made a traumatic and slow recovery. Today, about eighteen hundred tigers survive in the tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries of India. We may expect that this seed population will remain safe and the tiger population will grow to healthy numbers in the future. But the survival of this magnificent animal now faces many new complex issues of modern life, industrialization, and avarice.
This book, apart from the above mentioned issues, traces the tiger’s arrival in India, its personality and traits. It also examines the senseless killings that the feline has undergone in the past, and discusses its situation presently. Interspersed within the text are the narratives of some British tiger hunters of yore, the fraternity that has the singular distinction of killing tigers in the name of sport, showing the English penchant for tiger hunting. There are also some present-day real-life incidents of man–beast encounters, not only with the tiger but also with the leopard and the sloth bear, as the latter two happen to be the denizens who share the habitat with the tiger and with whom man often finds himself in a conflicting situation.
We also hope that through our stories and imagery we can raise awareness about the plight of not only tigers and their conservators but also the fragility of the last remaining wilderness they call home.
Note from Authors
I believe that books on wildlife are essential to acquaint people with this unique and magnificent subject and also to preserve the country’s wonderful biodiversity. I grew up reading the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson, and had the fortune to live my childhood in the countryside of Central and North India where jungles, wild animals and shikar were a way of life. When I look back, I do tend to romanticise my own childhood and fear that children today might grow up not knowing this world of magical adventure. I hope with this book we can bring the charm and thrill of the wild to children and adults alike, and provide a fillip to reigniting the intimacy with nature that we are slowly losing.
In love with India’s jungles and wildlife, where excitement and danger is ever present, the authors bring the jungle, animals, and human characters to life with their unique style of writing. Teeming with memorable characters—such as the cunning man-eating tigress of Achanakmar, Masan Baba - the tantrik who took on a leopard armed with just a pair of tongs, and Baba Sita Ram Das, the sadhu who tended to crocodiles but lost his hand in the bargain—and interspersed with narratives of some British hunters of yore, these real life jungle tales are bound to entertain casual readers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. The book provides a keen insight as to why these man-animal conflicts happen and what we, as a worldwide community, can do to decrease their tragic occurrence. Through anecdotal tales, the authors also provide tips and tricks for understanding basic wildlife behavior, from alarm calls to eating habits, thus preparing readers for their own personal encounters in the wild. The authors are very passionate about tigers and spend most of their free time at tiger reserves and national parks of Northern and Central India studying the state of conservation work there. Their jungle excursions give them an opportunity to write about many man-beast encounters that are true accounts of their own experiences and interviews with the characters involved in these incidents. They cover parts of India that are still relatively unknown and not as well-documented as other wildlife tourism-friendly locations in the country.
About the Authors
Jai Mohan is a writer and an enthusiastic wildlife and nature photographer. Having lived most of his life in central and northern India, he has spent a lot of time in some of India’s most verdant jungle belts. His love for the wild is evident in his writings. Besides entertaining readers with true jungle tales, some gruesome and some almost unbelievable, his aim is to share the alluring world of Indian jungles with readers and promote greater understanding and, with that, a greater responsibility towards wildlife conservation.
Akash has followed his father’s footsteps in taking to wildlife photography. What started as late night drives on deserted airfields trying to spot leopards and chasing albino foxes with Jai on the wheel of their yellow Willy’s jeep, or drives to Shahdol, Amarkantak, and Achanakmar to sight tigers and leopards, has snowballed into pure passion for both of them.
They spend as much time in the jungle as they can where they both enjoy their wildlife photography, learning from each other and from others whom they encounter on these sojourns. This father-son duo of Jai and Akash have turned their hobby into an all-consuming passion and way of life. With this book of their real life wild encounters, they truly have answered the call of the wild.
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