Capturing the beauty of the beast

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: Mar 7 2011, 04:20am hrs
Suberdar Ali's body got scarred, but his soul remained untouched from the tiger attack he suffered 27 years ago. A mahout and an anti poaching patrol leader at the Corbett National Park, Alis skull was ripped apart by an angry tiger. But the man refused to give up. After seven surgeries and several months of recuperation, Ali was back in the jungle. The brave mahout even went to the Kanpur zoo to meet his predator, who was sentenced behind the bars at the zoo after the attack.

Saluting the spirit of many more unsung heroes like Subedar Ali is the coffee table book Tiger Talk, brought out by WWF India. The book captures the stories of people who have spent their lives in the shadows of the striped residents of the jungle. Tiger Talk is slated to come out on March 17. It covers the stories of 12 people working with tigers in various tiger landscapes of India including Kanha, Corbett, Sunderbans, Kaziranga, Periyar and Madulamai. The book narrates the tales of these people who have spent their entire lives in the jungle, giving the tigers a safe habitat.

Tiger Talk also gives you a peek into some stunning tiger pictures captured by Delhi-based lens-man Manoj Jain who spent an entire month in six forest reserves and sanctuaries. Speaking to these people gave me an insight into their passion for tigers and the difficult conditions and environment these unsung heroes live in, says Jain. Away from their families and civilisation, some have been mauled by the beast, while some like Nissar Ali hasnt left the forest in ages, even to meet his ailing wife. Or for that matter, there are people like Joseph Vattakaven, a tiger biologist who has set up his office on the back of an elephant to be as close to his subject (the tiger) as possible. He is pursuing a PhD on tiger ecology. The monochromes in the book manage to capture the true essence and the spirit of the jungle, and of the people whose stories give a real insight to the life behind the scenes.

The campaign WWF Save the Tiger has seen tremendous interest in recent times and this book is a part of WWF's campaign aimed at creating awareness about saving the tigers and double their number by 2022. Ravi Singh, CEO and general secretary, WWF India, has seen peoples attitude and perception change considerably towards tiger conservation in the last three years.

People have become more aware of their surroundings and the environmental dangers. And the next decade could see some serious participation from the industry with about eight to ten different industry players becoming our partners in this cause, says Singh.

Apart from the book, a number of art works by Anjolie Ela Menon, Satish Gujral, Nupur Kundu and Yusuf Arrakal will be displayed. The artworks on display are an eclectic mix of colours showcasing the tiger in all its majesty. An interesting read with unique stories.