Book Review — Voices in the Wilderness, edited by Prerna Singh Bindra

Praveen Bhargav
Voices in the Wilderness
Prerna Singh Bindra
'A celebration of our wilds'

In Voices in the Wilderness, Prerna Singh Bindra has put together an eclectic mix of essays from some of India’s best known wildlifers/writers. The 22 chapters take the reader through the length and breadth of India from Point Calimere to the icy Himalayan mountain ranges and across a wide variety of habitats—from rain forests and mangroves to marine habitats and mass nesting beaches.

The writings, both fact and fiction, have a strong undertone of protection and do not portray wildlife ‘through the barrel of the gun’, as Prerna herself outlines in her introductory chapter. Voices in the Wilderness comes at a time when India’s wildlife continues to face grave threats from both illegal hunting and destruction and fragmentation of habitat. Many of the essays in the book illustrate this important conservation conundrum and even present some realistic solutions which makes this book relevant from a conservation perspective. Let me quickly add that it is not, however, an undiluted conservation or natural history volume.

Authors include the late FW Champion, M Krishnan, Kailash Sankhala besides Ullas Karanth, Valmik Thapar, Bittu Sahgal, AJT Johnsingh, Peter Jackson, Tom Alter, Shekar Dattatri, Ranjit Lal, Bikram Grewal among others. The essays of most authors are peppered with some pulsating narratives on wildlife encounters and anecdotes that are rooted in their intense personal experiences of working up close with wildlife in varied habitats. The reader will enjoy the sheer diversity of species that the narrative vividly illustrates, and as Prerna in her introduction puts it, ‘a celebration of our wilds.” The editor has, in this edition, attempted to bring the ‘voice of the voiceless’ which is well worth a read.

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Praveen Bhargav is managing trustee of Wildlife First and was a member of the National Board for Wildlife (2007-10).


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