Sundeep Bhutoria

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Safari notes – Kolkata chapter

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With Belinda Wright and Nitin Desai
A discussion on my recently published book The Safari: A diary on Ranthambore was organised by the Indian Centre for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Kolkata, and Siyahi at the Abanindranath Art Gallery, ICCR, today evening. 
I was in conversation with two of India's leading wildlife conservationists Belinda Wright and Nitin Desai, who is a writer too. Belinda is also the executive director of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) and a tireless activist.

With Moon Moon Sen, Bharat and Raima
The discussion on The Safari, which was planned in advance, coincided with another positive development. A couple of days ago I got the official permission from the Alipore Zoological Gardens (Alipore Zoo) Kolkata under the “animal adoption scheme” to adopt the youngest yet-to-be-named Royal Bengal tigress at the Zoo.

In The Safari event, there was a big turnout at the discussion-cum-interactive session with eminent Kolkatans, animal activists, wildlife enthusiasts and media persons attended the hour-long session which began with informal tea & snacks amid music played by three mashak players from Rajasthan. 
With Rachana
Mashak, made of complete goatskin, is a wind instrument popular among the locals in the Ranthambore region or the tiger land. Apart from Alwar and Bharatpur they are also found in Sawai Madhopur district which falls in the geographical area of Ranthambore.

Quite a few of the guests told me that they saw the mashak, which many call the Indian bagpipe, for the first time. The big posters of the beautiful wild cats added to the Ranthambore ambience. These were taken during my Ranthambore visit and were put on display near the gallery. Many of the celebs had their pictures snapped standing next to these pictures of tigers.

With Babi Nobis and Teena
Among those who came to the discussion session included, Moon Moon Sen, Raima Sen, Bharat Dev Varma, actress Rituparna, Rachana, Locket Chatterjee, danseuse Priti Patel, consulate members from US, France and Germany, representatives of WWF and other wild life enthusiasts.

The topic of dwindling tiger population in India and the issue of conservation came up during the discussion. I am a wildlife enthusiast and have been greatly concerned by this fact. I have been to Ranthambore innumerable times and can identify many of the tigers by sight. The Safari is the fruit of my love for the beautiful cat as an animal lover and not as an authority on wildlife.

With Raima Sen
I am glad that India has through its 1973 Project Tiger initiative increased the tiger count in the country from 268 to 1468. Awareness campaigns and animal adoptions by the corporate sector, celebrities and citizens of India are expected to help the cause of animal protection in general.

During the discussion on The Safari, Belinda Wright cautioned the audience to remember that “..... the tiger's brillance and this spirit is also the reason for its downfall. Nitin Desai made a very pertinent point when talked about his efforts to launch among the locals of Sunderbans in West Bengal, a secret information reward scheme. He felt this could help stop poaching of wildlife.

This was the second event on The Safari. I had last month held an event in Jaipur. The formal launch of the books, however, is due.

Tomorrow I will be going to the Sunderbans which is another tiger land.

ess bee

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