Written by 7:43 am Review

Wild By Nature, A Book Review

Chaoji, the Biologist

Imagine a person seeing a degrading forest and barren land, where not a blade of grass could grow; the carbon, the nitrogen required to cultivate had all but vanished. The person says, let me retrieve the lost splendor and bring back the biodiversity that once housed the area. The person of interest is Anirudh Chaoji, a Biologist, at the Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve (TATR). His connect to the people and being a son of the soil, ensured Chaoji marched ahead with strength and conviction to work with the local community, the forest administrators, and provide an opportunity for nature to flourish. Having the experience of an entrepreneurial venture that Chaoji started in the form of Pugmarks, an eco-tourism company to working with the Eco-development Committees (EDC), he simply believes in the fact that, ‘…..Indian Jugaad can offer simple solutions to real-life challenges…..” in the natural areas. The Jugaad, the experimentation, the ‘frugal innovation’ that Chaoji thought of was inspired by his farm in Ran Mangli. His simple belief was to create innovative and economical solutions through the available resources, within the system. 

Wild by Nature…..

Calling himself Ani, the nomad, Chaoji, authors his experiences in a book that comes within your palm and gives ample food for thought through the 150 stories that reverberate, provide a unique peep into the flora and fauna, that puts forward a multitude of facets in an eloquent fashion. Tigers, no doubt are the umbrella species of our forests, which have created all the sound and magic around eco-tourism and our forest visits. 

Indexed at 131, ‘Gait of the Tiger’ provides for a phenomenal understanding of the walk of the Tiger in the forest and helps one to understand the species better. Very well-articulated, the child and the adult alike will understand the feline better.  

‘Leopard dating the panther’ (indexed 47); provides for an understanding of the widespread of the Indian forests of the Western Ghats (Dandeli area in Karnataka) and how the beautiful black leopard for many, is melanistic (Panthera-pardus). Ani speaks about Tadobas’ own ‘blackie’ who feels at home in the central part of India.  

Writing about, creepy-crawlies (indexed 67), Chaoji brings in the best with the discussion on the ‘Military Moth,’ for the moths are inspired by military fatigue. The information that is provided will immerse the reader, to understand further…feeding on the highly poisonous Kanher Plant (Nerium oleander) the larvae become healthy caterpillars.  

The subject indexed at 76 is the Forest Owlet, which was christened as Athene blewiti by AO Hume the founder of the Indian National Congress (INC). The specimen of the bird was first collected by FR Blewitt in 1872, hence the name. Chaoji also provides for the throughputs about how the bird was believed to be extinct and found by Pamela Rasmussen, an Ornithologist from America in 1997. 

These are the tit-bits of information that will ensure the best for the reader to savor.  

It was the ‘unusual thief,’ that took my breath away. The unusual thief in question is a black mongoose-like animal, with a dog-like face, but is referred to as a cat. The elucidation of the Asian Palm Civet and the coffee story attached to the Viverrid family tree clearly articulates one of the best at index 135. 

Truly a piece of knowledge, that you will not let go of, Chaoji, reaches out to readers of all hues, and the gripping delivery of information and inputs will bring about the wild in you to explore further and understand nature at its best. A book worth possessing and buying one (or many) will help in deepening the objective of education and support mechanism for the communities and the future generations who live in the forest areas, that Ran Mangli Foundation (www.ranmanglifoundation.org) has envisioned and is reaching out to.  

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