Forty-five years after Project Tiger was launched here, the Corbett National Park remains one of India’s most important preserves. While it is strongly identified with tigers in the popular imagination, and the local guides are under constant pressure to produce sightings, the park is also home to elephants and numerous species of birds and reptiles. The scrupulous traveller must, therefore, pack several books for the trip — a field guide each for birds and animals, a travel guide and the complete works of Jim Corbett. Half a library shelf, in short. This book will spare you the trouble. Liberally illustrated with astonishingly good camerawork — the editing is sloppy in comparison — it covers the varied landscapes and fauna of Corbett. It even has a little section on the Corbett heritage trail, and readers can visit the locations of My India, the hunter and conservationist’s most thoughtful book, and meet the descendants of the men and women who peopled its pages. The history of conservation in the area, and the questions raised by ongoing development, are analysed, and the book is carefully organised. There are separate chapters on bird life, prey like cheetal, nilgai and wild boar, and other life forms, most notably the gharial and marsh crocodiles which populate the Ramganga river. There is also a little chapter on forests, though it is no substitute for Pradip Kishen. But, with the help of a 10-page checklist of the major species at Corbett, and with the internet for your friend, prospective visitors could research in advance the riot of wildlife that they may encounter. To be sure, this is not a book intended for seasoned wildlife enthusiasts, but it will prove to be a fine introduction for the first-time visitor. And for those who, for diverse reasons, can’t deal with the regimen of Dhikala, it provides a fine opportunity for armchair tourism.
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