Leopard Diaries: The Rosette in India is a 360o view of the life of one of the four big cats of India’s wildlife seen through the eyes of conservation biologist Dr Sanjay Gubbi. Passionate about his pet subject, Panthera pardus or the leopard, the book is written in an autobiographical style and captures a decade of untiring work that involved a tedious amount of field activity with all the trappings of modern technology-driven analysis. Gubbi paints a beautiful picture of all the current understanding that is available about this versatile feline, against the canvas of varied geographical terrains of Karnataka—one of the many areas in India where the leopard resides.
Though a conservation biologist, Sanjay Gubbi has effortlessly made this book not purely academic but has interspersed biology with interesting contextual details of the natural world and earth sciences. He also talks about the socio-political and economic impacts on the survival and vulnerability of leopards. His deep involvement in the field of Conservation Biology is well-known and his book exhibits this enthusiasm which makes it so different from other books on wildlife.
Gubbi moves seamlessly from discussing the science that has driven the genetic evolution of the leopard to understanding the different forms—such as the melanistic leopard (black panther) and even the unusual strawberry leopard—in very simple language. The ‘à-la-carte’ menu’ that the leopard partakes, he says, allows it to reside with ease in both the jungle and in human-inhabited rural cultivated areas. Leopards are found in 63 countries around the globe and ‘are considered biologically successful because of their evolutionary persistence and their widespread distribution’ Gubbi says in the book, and the only ‘places they remain absent from are deserts and snow-capped mountains’ making them, in his words, ‘habitat generalist’.