18 February 2012

Conservation by Murder by Sudipt Dutta

The Royal Bengal tiger has always been a creature of fascination – but over the centuries, the Sundarbans tiger reserve has had limited appeal as a source of tiger study and sport. This book gives us a privileged view of the reserve, and strips away the confusion, myth and false data that further endangers the tiger by obscuring honest study of it.
Sudipt Dutta first visited the Sunderbans as a young journalist in 1985. Over the years he went back a number of times and was so committed to spending time in and studying the area that he built his own motor yacht and made it his home for 50 days each year between 2006 and 2010. Added to his own observation and analysis, in this book he also examines data from various sources and interviews officials and experts.
There is apparently a popular belief that the tigers that live here are different from other tigers physically and psychologically, and Sudipt Dutta explores each myth in detail, showing logically that these tigers are not different. In this book he also proves that the Sunderbans tigers are not natural man eaters and if they eat humans it is almost always because of poor management by forest officials.
There are two things I admired very much about this book. One is the author’s passion and dedication to his subject. He has used personal resources and gone out of his way to speak on this important subject, and he has taken the considerable risk of exposing bad governance in this area, in particular the tendency of forest officials to alter data to show themselves in a positive light. The second is the fact that, even though this book was peer reviewed and accepted for publication by a reputed international publisher, he set aside personal glory to bring out the book quickly but without fanfare rather than wait for the years the international publisher said it would take, a period the tiger might not even survive, without the practical means this book prescribes.
Sadly, however, this has meant that the book lacks in production values – its paper, print and edit quality are mediocre, though the cover image, by Devika ‘Inca’ Dutt is original and very striking.

No comments:

Post a Comment