Most children learn about the facts of life from birds and bees. The present author's wisdom in this crucial area came from hearing stories about the private lives of elephants (of which his family owned seventeen). Dr Lahiri-Choudhury was fed elephant's milk as a child, and though he graduated to other liquids by and by, those first draughts infused him with at least one passion that might appropriately be termed elephantine.
Dhriti K. Lahiri-Choudhury grew up in Mymensingh district, now in Bangladesh, inhabiting a near mythic feudal world of household elephants, shikar, Indian classical music, and good food. The partition of his country ended this lifestyle, but not his obsession with elephant.
Over seventy years he trawled the forests of Lower Assam, Barak Valley, West Bengal, Meghalaya. Arunachal Pradesh and Orissa, as well as Uttaranchal, Mudumalai, Bandipur, and Periyar. His experience with elephants includes tracking them in undivided Assam, penetrating remote areas in pursuit of declared mankilling rogues He surveyed the status and distribution of elephants, studied man-elephant conflicts, and analysed the problems of managing elephants in the wild. He journeyed over thousands of miles of hazardous roads and walked through the north-eastern forests of India, learning to read the language of the jungle. His acquaintance with wild elephants, some of them man-killer, was sometimes from as close as a few feet.
For those who have wondered where Jim Corbett's descendants are, here is the answer. This book is in the best tradition of writing about animals: a wildlife memoir peppered with anecdotes, shot through with humour and irony, perfectly combining story-telling and scholarship.
Back of the Book
Dhriti K. Lahiri-Choudhury is an unlikely elephant expert. He has a Ph. D. in English Literature from Leeds University. He was Professor and Head, Department of English, Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta. In his parallel life as elephant specialist, he is a member of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). He was a member of the task force outlining Indian's 'Project Elephant', and, later, its coordinator for eastern and north-eastern India. He writes in both English and Bengali. His published work on elephants includes (as editor) the great Indian Elephant Book' (in Bengali) Hati O Banjangaler Katha (Tales of Elephants and Forests); as well as technical manuals, scientific reports, and popular writings.
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