Saturday, 9 May 2015

Review: Coffee Table Book: "Capturing Wildlife Moments in India" by Ashok Mahindra

Photography has always been a passion with me since early school; I even famously dabbled, albeit briefly, with developing my own photographic film (amongst those of us who took to photography before the advent of digital cameras & have actually seen Kodak films :)

Thanks to my mother who is passionate about gardening, my adulthood photography has largely revolved around flora - fresh flowers in my mother's garden.  This tryst with nature, through flora photography, as I call it, not only honed my 'still photography' skills, but also, as a collateral benefit, keen appreciation of all things natural.  Its kind of magnificent to be able to observe & appreciate how meticulously & purposefully nature creates.  For all our advancement, would we be able to create a flower as intricate & colorful? Not yet.

When I received this Coffee Table book, "Capturing Wildlife Moments in India" by Ashok Mahindra of The Hem Chand Mahindra Foundation, I could instantly relate to it because of my aforesaid tryst with nature photography.  Though I have never had the guts or opportunity to dabble in wildlife photography.

This book, "Capturing Wildlife Moments in India", contains 120 photographs of animals & birds of India, photographed from visits to over 30 parks, sanctuaries and other locations.

Launching this month, it is published by Oxford University Press (OUP) & Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). The book will be available at most of the major retail outlets across India and also online with Amazon & Flipkart, among other e-tailers. It will also be available for sale through the BNHS website and is priced at Rs.1450.

Isn't that cover shot of the majestic tiger awesome for the way it captures the reflection as well? For an essentially photo book, I like the care it takes to narrate; for example, on the cover (above) is Ustad, the tiger in Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan.  His photo is accompanied by interesting titbits.  The book articulates folklore that he has mauled quite much in the past (though it is not substantiated) but has since been off the habit quite a while & goes on to mention his expanding territorial ambitions.

Through 120 photographs in this book, Ashok has shown the rich heritage and range of wildlife and its habitats in India. 

I love the brief yet touching dedication - the author dedicates the book to the young & through them, hopefully, to their posterity - to appreciate that without nature's multifarious portfolio of ecosystems & creations, nothing pretty much would exist! And that's why we ought to respect & preserve them.  A message well conveyed. 

Each specie photographed is comprehensively explained including its current habitat and status. 

The book is not only an ode to nature, as it were, but is a practical handbook. It has interesting chapters, ranging from the author's perspective, thirteen ways forward (to appreciate, conserve & engage with wildlife habitats) to camera angle & technique (this, for someone like me who is basically interested in photography but has never done wildlife photography, is a boon) as well as chapters dedicated to wildlife hotspots & interesting places to stay. 

I quite appreciate how the book indicates the continuing threat to wildlife in India and sets out how it could be more effectively preserved. The book will be of particular interest to those involved in conservation, wildlife photography, and wildlife tourism.

All in all, I recommend this coffee table book to each of us - to be handed over to posterity as a collector's edition - to introduce, foster & inculcate an understanding and appreciation - so that, our wildlife habitats are safely handed over for generations to come.

About the Author:

Ashok Mahindra is now a wildlife photographer. Ashok is a Chartered Accountant from both England & Wales and India. He retired as Co-Chairman of Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, and as Senior Partner of A.F. Ferguson & Co. in 2008, after a career of 39 years. He was educated at Doon School, Dehra Dun, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and St. John’s College, Oxford. He is a former Treasurer Trustee and Vice President of WWF-India. 

Reach Ashok Mahindra: 


This post is a part of the book review program of / at Saevus Wildlife India in association with The Hemchand Mahindra Foundation for the book Capturing Wildlife Moments in India.

Cheers :)

PS: Photographs have been reproduced here with due permissions.  Please do not use any photographs without prior written consent of the author Ashok Mahindra and Saevus Wildlife India. Thanks.