© 1997 Valmik Thapar
Imagine a Planet Earth episode focused entirely on India, and then presented in book form. The result is In the Land of the Tiger, which takes readers on a guide through the lush natural landscape of the Indian subcontinent, starting from the mountains and following the rivers to the coast, from there visiting islands before examining other disparate areas of the land. This volume is replete both with photos and picturesque writing, displaying a soul-stirring variety of animals. Many I had no idea existed, like the Hoolock gibbon, India's only ape, and the pied hornbill. The expanse of human settlement has pushed many animals into new territories and created interesting adapational behavior: for instance, although lions typically hunt in prides, those who live in India's forested margins must become solo artists. There are also elephants who swim in the open sea between different island. (There is an extraordinary shot of an elephant swimming, taken from below. Talk about perilous photography!) Land of the Tiger makes more cultural references than Planet Earth or related series did, connecting animals to Hindu religion and folk medicines. I've been slowly guiding through this the past few days, savoring the photos and writing -- what a great start for the Discovery of Asia series!
When I finished this book I noticed that Land of the Tiger was actually a BBC nature series. I was more on the nose than I realized!