The magnificent tigers at Tadoba Tiger Reserve in Nagpur, glimpses of the one of the 350 Asiatic lions in Gir Forest in Gujarat and the beauty of the Himalayas: Naturalist Sunjoy Monga takes us through India’s glorious natural heritage in his book Journeys through India’s Last Wild Places that will be released on Monday.
“The book is not just about pretty pictures but about a story of the pressures that exist on a little more than 4% of the country that is under some form of official protection for nature conservation,” said Monga, who is also a writer and photographer.
At 312 pages and comprising almost 800 visuals, the book is not only feel good. Apart from stories on successes achieved in conservation, there are glimpses of ecological disasters too. “If one considers the wilderness a place untouched by human hand, where no trace of modern civilisation intrudes on natural processes, then India seems to have lost all but a precious few of them,” said Monga adding that biodiversity, however, finds a way of adapting itself to human civilisation.
Although it does not cover the country’s last wild places through state boundaries, the book has divided India into ten zones spanning 3.28 million sq km area - Trans-Himalayas, Himalayas, Indo-Gangetic plains, semi-arid, desert, Deccan peninsula, Western Ghats, Northeast, coast and islands.
Maharashtra is featured in three of the main sections of the book – the Deccan peninsula, the Western Ghats and the coast zone as per the geographical, topographical, climatic and zoological parameters. The bulk of Maharashtra’s protected areas such as tiger reserves in Tadoba and Melghat lie in the Deccan peninsula zone.
“One would be justified in saying that India is fighting an enormous and seemingly eternal battle to prevent her wildernesses from getting swallowed up by contemporary life,” said Monga.