'Battle for conservation will be fought in our cities'.
What lessons did research for Rewilding teach you?
For this book, I spent two years travelling to India’s most remote corners; sometimes alone, and at times, with my four-year-old. I covered places from Manas on the border with Bhutan to Orang (Sonitpur district, Assam) a lesser-known park but extremely vital habitat for the rhino and pygmy hog. When I finished my travels I came away with an immense sense of pride on how much we are doing to conserve our wildlife, but this hope sits on the precipice of concern. It takes so much hard work to restore an ecosystem or bring back a species and with just one nod from a decision maker, the same forest can be signed away for a dam or a road. Take the Panna example. While we have an army of forest guards on the ground to protect the tiger in this national park in Madhya Pradesh, we now want to drown the same habitat for a river-linking project. Never mind the millions of rupees that have gone in bringing back tigers to a park that lost all its big cats to poaching.
Award-winning environmental journalist Bahar Dutt discusses a new book (Rewilding) that celebrates the lesser-known triumphs of conservation in India, Panna Tiger Reserve and the travesty of Aarey.