A Paean To The Forest
Malati Mukherjee
BALLAD OF KAZIRANGA by Dileep Chandan Niyogi Books, 2018, 300 pp., 450
April 2019, volume 43, No 4

Kaziranga! The very name spells magic. Deep dark forests, filtered emerald-green sunlight, large acres of open grassland, swamps and wetland, and thousands of animals and birds coexisting in celebration of the splendid glory of nature. Spread across over 400 sq km, Kaziranga is home to several protected species of animals: among them the tiger (its largest concentration in the world is found here), the wild elephants, the water buffalo, the swamp deer, many species of birds, and most famously, two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhino population.

Nestled across the floodplains of the majestic Brahmaputra, between the districts of Golaghat and Nagaon in Assam, India’s North Eastern State, Kaziranga is plagued by regular flooding and by poachers who saw off the rhino’s horn, leaving the animal to bleed to death. The dedicated team of forest guards have less than bare minimum resources to save their much-loved forest and its animals from nature’s fury and man’s greed. They struggle, but as the book tells us, find it mostly a losing battle.

For tourists like us, Kaziranga is a ‘must-see’ destination, so we can compare notes on how many animals we sighted, and fill our social media pages with photos. The government persists in allowing tarred roads to be built through our reserve forests, where speeding cars, buses and trucks flog their horns through the day and night, regularly knocking down and maiming or killing wildlife.

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