Heady encounters with the wild

Dec 31, 2011, 07:35 IST | Surekha S
Naturalist Sunjoy Monga has been on the move over the last 18 months travelling across the length and breadth of the country. The resultĀ -- his latest book Journeys Through India's Last Wild Places, which explores the mystical wilderness and offers a mesmerising account of nature's splendour

Naturalist, writer and photographer Sunjoy Monga has authored nine books in the past, including the immensely popular City Forest: Mumbai's Natural Park. His latest book, Journeys Through India's Last Wild Places, takes you on an armchair trip to the country's last wild places.

The Gaur, the largest of all bovines, is found in the Western

We quiz him on why he has called it the last wild places and he says, "These are the last of the natural wilderness we have. We can't create anymore. The title mentions the word last on purpose to startle and fascinate readers."

With awe-inspiring photographs of wildlife as well as landscapes, the book takes an intricate look at India's biodiversity, which forms the habitat for wildlife. Just 4% of the country's nature is under protection and a majority of these wild places have been featured in the book.

The Snow-leopard or Ounce is found in the Trans-Himalayan
region. It's population in the region is estimated to be around

The book has been divided into 10 bio-geographical zones with relevant text and photographs. Monga gives the readers a detailed view of each particular zone, including details of geography, landscape, flora and fauna as well as the changes caused by human intervention. "I wanted to look at it from a bio-geographical angle, so that people can understand the complete background of the wildlife and the need for its protection," explains Monga.

Cross country journey
As you shift through the pages of the book, you travel with Monga from the Trans-Himalayan region to the deserts, Western Ghats and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. His experiences and personal accounts offer an intimate picture of the region he travels through. Each of the bio-geographical classification includes a detailed account with data on the area, the biodiversity, statistics on the flora and fauna and key species.

The Deccan Peninsula inflicted with scars of a rising demand for
underground resources

There are experts' accounts included as well that are a result of Monga's meetings with specialists. These accounts are informative and can help even the uninitiated get interested and understand the diversity and beauty of the wild.

The breathtaking images of the snow-leopard, Ibex, Nilgiri Tahr, green forests, snow-covered peaks and the patterns of the rock and sand in the desert make this an extremely pleasurable journey. "Forests are just one part of the wild. The grasslands, deserts, Western Ghats and islands all form a part of nature and each of these habitats are in greater need of protection," says Monga.

Guardian angels of nature
This book is not just a celebration of nature's beauty but also offers a salute to those striving to protect our natural habitat. "The message behind the book is that people should respect nature. Don't relegate your admiration to just one day. Nature is not just about the tiger. From the dragonfly to the elephant and the many insects that have made earth their home, recognise the importance of each one of them. Each part of the world is an ecological platform and its important to respect it," he signs off.

Journeys through India's Last Wild Places by Sunjoy Monga;
published by Yuhina Eco-Media; Rs 3,900. Available at leading

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