NOT ‘VANISHING’ IS BINDRA’S WILDLIFE PASSION
Prerna Singh Bindra was recently in Goa for the release of her book ‘The Vanishing – India’s Wildlife Crisis’, where she was in conversation with Vivek Menezes, cofounder/ curator of Goa Arts and Literature Festival. Her new book looks at India’s wildlife, which is at the edge of extinction
Prerna Singh Bindra is fascinated by wildlife, right from the Asiatic elephant to the dragonfly. “Every year, dragonflies migrate thousands of kilometres across the sea. It is so fascinating to learn about the nature of these animals,” says Prerna. A passionate wildlife author and activist, Prerna has dedicated decades of her life to the conservation and preservation of wildlife and the environment. She has authored ‘King and I: Travels in Tigerland’ and edited ‘Voices in the Wilderness: Contemporary Wildlife Writings’. Her latest book, ‘The Vanishing - India’s Wildlife Crisis’, comprises a lifetime’s work. “I have been working on the research for this book for so many years, with my travels to the remotest parts of India. The process of writing the book took me one year and it was both, fascinating and frustrating. I had so much to write that I was adding information till the last moment. I wanted the book to be easily understandable; though it would be scientific, I wanted it to reach the average reader,” explains Prerna, who will be back in Goa in December for the Goa Arts and Literature Festival. Every day, species are coming closer to extinction; this could be due to taking away their natural habitat, climatic change due to global warming and even hunting. Through the book, Prerna gives an eye witness account of India’s vanishing natural treasure, without losing focus of Goa. “Goa’s rapidly growing real estate industry and tourism is affecting the wildlife and the social fabric of life. I have been to villages in Goa where the people are still traditionally rooted to their land and Goa has a vibrant civil society. I visited the Barazan plateau, site of the proposed Mopa airport, from which 40 streams flow, leaving the soil fertile for agriculture. The farmers there will lose their livelihood when their water and soil will get affected because of the airport,” she explains. “Goa is a small state yet there is a kind of mad development taking place. While tourism can be a great tool to a stable economy, it is a double-edged sword as it comes with its negatives, such as garbage and even destruction of mangroves. Goa is set to be a coal hub where the rivers of Goa, including Mandovi, are proposed to be national waterways. Great civilisations have sustained on river banks and civilisations have been destroyed by the death of the rivers,” she adds. Speaking about hunting and poaching, Prerna says, “Pangolins are relentlessly killed for their scales and meat, elephants for their tusks, and in Goa, the bull frog is known as the jumping chicken. Firstly, the forest staff in India is short-staffed by 30 per cent, while national reserves are over 90 per cent short-staffed. Secondly, the forest staff is not trained to deal with wildlife crimes that are actually on par with the black market of arms and narcotics. The forest staff is not equipped and don’t understand the gravity of the crime. Laws which are meant to protect the wildlife and environment are diluted.” However when it comes to conservation, India is amongst the forerunners. “India has the maximum number of tigers and Asiatic elephants and over 80 per cent of the world population of Gangetic dolphin are in India. New species which were not scientifically identified have also been found in India recently,” concludes Prerna optimistically
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