An animal with a huge body, big eyes, a nonchalant walk mixed with majesty, a yellow and black striped furry coat and an elusive enigma writ large... any guesses as to what is our topic of discussion?
Did you just picturise a tiger? Bang on! Indeed it is the tiger whose elusive nature is probably the reason why wildlife enthusiasts are drawn towards it. To find out the forbidden has always been the general characteristic of the human psyche.
However, what we know about tigers is not even the size of one of the animal’s paws. And in order to quench our thirst to know the animal better, we need an expert. And when it comes to tigers, who can be a better guide than the Tiger Man of India himself?
Yes, Valmik Thapar has yet again come up with an enthralling story of the tigers from the famous tiger reserve of India, Ranthambore. Naming it Living With Tigers, Thapar narrates the story of his life with the tigers of Ranthambore.
When it comes to tigers, an enthusiast would always like to know about each and every one in the country but for a person like Thapar, who has seen around 150 tigers in his life, the best thing to do is to talk about the special ones. That’s exactly what he has done in his latest book.
And which other place in India could have been a better place as a background to talk about tigers than Ranthambore?
Explaining the importance of Fateh Singh Rathore in his life, a wildlife conservationist and his mentor in the field of studying the animals, Thapar explains how his journey took a U-turn after a single visit to Ranthambore.
He talks of Ranthambore as the natural forest that existed much before it was turned into a national park bound with several regulations, which he explains not only hampered the study of tigers but also the very ecosystem of the animal.
In this book, Thapar talks about the special tigers like Laxmi, Broken Tooth, Noon, T27 or Ustad and not to forget, the famous Machhli to name a few.
Thapar writes about the beautiful relation with several tigers he has had in his 40 years of studying them in Ranthambore. He tells a reader how tigers are the most independent animals and through the journey from birth to death, Thapar talks about the highs and lows the animal goes through.
He, however, does not miss out to narrate the individualistic nature of each tiger, something that separated each one of them from the other.
In Living With Tigers, Thapar explains Fateh Singh Rathore’s arduous attempts to make Ranthambore a go-to place for tiger enthusiasts. However, he also mentions how human interference disrupted the way the tigers behave in the forest.
Bold Thapar directly blames human beings for Ranthambore’s tigers turning man-eaters and without batting an eyelid he talks of our ‘efficient’
He lambasts the lackadaisical attitude of the bureaucrats without naming them. He spews his venom of anger over the issue of tigers being manhandled by human beings.
Condemning the acts of tranquilising tigers to treat them even for a minor injury, Thapar explains how tigers are adept to treat themselves and correctly quotes Rathore when once he said “Let them be free. Some will live long others will not — that is nature and it is not man’s job to play God to them. Let our wilderness be really wild and not manipulated by man.”
Overall, the book is a good read for wildlife enthusiasts who have a special penchant to learn about the elusive animal. Through the pages of his latest book, he has broken a lot of myths revolving around tigers like the one on male ones devouring young cubs and the like. A must read if tiger it is that enthrals you no ends!