Book Review — Fundamentals of Wildlife Management

Natraj Publishers
A practical and contemporary reference textbook for wildlife experts and students in India.

Fundamentals of Wildlife Management

Author: Rajesh Gopal

Publisher: Natraj, Rs. 1,395

The size is daunting — a fact remarked upon by the Minister of Environment and Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, when she released this book, explaining that she had not read it yet, but would certainly have done the deed by the end of her tenure. Besides the fact that she was keen to read the book, I believe she also conveyed her intent to stick around for some time to come!

Authored by Rajesh Gopal, the ‘face’ of the tiger in India, as head of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the 1,300-page book might — and does — lack the gloss and spectacular pictures that we have come to expect from wildlife books. But what it does provide is what its title promises: A one-stop shop for the field manager on how to run the show. The book is comprehensive; it covers just about every aspect imaginable (and beyond) on the subject: Conservation ethics, habitat analysis, animal biology, basic ecology, study of signs and symptoms, healthcare, disease management, human-wildlife conflict, wildlife policy and legislation, restraint and capture of wildlife, fertility and fecundity in big cats, and much more. The tiger, for obvious reasons, gets special emphasis with a detailed note on the methods to estimate tigers, blue print for tiger conservation plans, in-situ conservation, legal framework of the NTCA, etc.

Though a reference textbook, the approach is practical and contemporary. It provides knowledge that the field manager will immediately be able to put to practice in the dynamic world of conservation — where the climate shifts continually, challenges grow grimmer by the day and where the only constant is the mysterious, magical and complex world of the wild.

The author has devoted the bulk of his career — 33 years to be precise — to the tiger, a good part of it in Kanha and Bandhavgarh, and about a decade as the head of Project Tiger. The author draws upon this experience, both on and off the field, which is reflected in his in-depth understanding of the paradigms of wildlife management.

Though not for the lay reader, the book is a must for field managers, students and conservation practitioners — be it in the government or non-government sector. It will help understand not only the management framework, but also the system in which our wildlife administration operates. Wildlife is not just about gloss and dramatic moments as seen on television or projected in the media. This one gives us the ‘nuts-and bolts’ of management in the field as well as the administrative and legislative framework in which a manager must operate. While an exhaustive manual, it is also a useful starting point, with no less than 1,700 references which can be further studied.

Fundamentals of Wildlife Management promises to be extremely useful in India, where managers of protected areas are rarely specialised in their task. It will enable them to appraise themselves of the theory and practices of management, and help in making their task more effective — and in that lies its biggest contribution.

The book is available from this link at Flipkart.

About the author

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Prerna Singh Bindra is a conservationist and writer. She was member, National Board for Wildlife and its core Standing Committee (2010-2013). She is on the State Board for Wildlife, Uttarakhand. She is Founder-Director of Bagh trust. She edits TigerLink and is associated with Wildlife Conservation Society-India.


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