From turtles to elephants

Wednesday 31 January 2007

Riddle of the Ridley and Lai Lai the Baby Elephant by Shekar Dattatri Wildlife Protection Society of India Delhi and Tulika Publishers, Chennai

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Riddle of the Ridley is a charming book about the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle. The book's author, Shekar Dattatri has been documenting the turtles for more than 25 years. Dattatri, a wildlife film maker, describes the mass nesting event of the turtles as "the most incredible spectacle he has ever seen and photographed".

Engaging and informative, the book is filled with amazing photographs which capture both the intriguing life history of the turtle, and also the threats encountered over their long life.

This small book manages to relay up-to-date scientific knowledge about the turtle's biology, the fisheries practices, industries which threaten them, and the policies in place to protect them, all in an easy-to-read style.At the back of the book is a useful fact sheet explaining the turtle's biology and key points for its protection. One is left with a feeling determined to help protect this remarkable creature and its habitat.

Habitat destruction is also the concern of the other book under review here. Its about elephants. Shekar Dattatri became fascinated with elephants whilst filming them. The book charts the life of Lai Lai, a baby elephant living in the wild, from his birth to becoming a young adolescent. It is beautifully illustrated and introduces the reader to many intriguing facts about elephants why they bathe in mud, who heads the elephant family and how they manage to swim so well. One comes to realise why elephants need vast expanses of jungle to feed in.

The book's uncomplicated bi-lingual narrative (Hindi and English) will give youngsters a good grasp of the biology and habits of elephants, and the threats they face.

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