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Lesser known creatures

Book>> Protected Animals Of India • by Sanjay Sondhi • TERI Press • Rs 395

By Dayita Datta
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

bookAs a teacher, I feel we put too much pressure on children. Whether it is prese­rvation of heritage or preservation of the environment, we target them. But then I come up short—our generation has made such a mess of things, perhaps because we were not made aware of the fragility of our heritage. The best we can do now is sensitise young minds about the threats to our heritage.

That India’s wildlife faces a precarious future is a truism that needs little repetition. We slash forests, smash roads through ecologically fragile islands and fragment our natural habitat. Yet there have been success stories where popular action has made its mark in preservation of rare species, and ecologically sensitive areas.

Female and male (in the background) Western Hoolock Gibbon at the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary in AssamSanjay Sondhi docum­ents such efforts. The attractively produced Protected Animals of India situates the idea of protection of animals within the wider perspective of environment protection and conservation. More laudably, the endeavour is for children.

Sondhi has included a representative selection from different orders of the animal kingdom. Sondhi is a naturalist whose passions are the less iconic yet vital life forms like reptiles, amphibians and insects and crustaceans. He has taken care to include species like the golden gecko, the Sri Lanka frogmouth, the Crenulate mottle and the lesser valley coral.

This is the real value of the book for budding naturalists, already aware of the status of the tiger or the lion.

Young people like stories with happy endings. The older generation, concentrating on stories of habitat depletion, often forgets this. The book concludes with the success stories of efforts to save species as varied as the whale shark and the pygmy hog. It focuses on a number of organisations involved in wildlife conservation and has a last section: “What can you do to make a difference?”

Dayita Datta is vice-principal of Welham Girls’ School, Dehradun

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