India: The Tiger's Roar, is the follow-up to the successful and well received India: The Peacock’s Call by Aline Dobbie. Aline Dobbie was born in and spent her childhood in India where her father, Colonel Frank Rose was an offcer in the Indian Army. Since returning to her native Scotland at the age of sixteen, Dobbie has re-visited India and written prolifically on the country and its people. From her infancy the author has been fascinated by that most magnificent and elusive of beasts, the tiger. India: The Tiger's Roar is a personal account of her pilgramage to India’s great wildlife parks and tiger sanctuaries. Hewever, India: The Tiger's Roar is certainly not a travel guide, nor a guide to the wildlife of India, although it is an excellent source of information on both subjects. Instead it is a heady blend of travelogue and personal insight, cultural and political philosophy, anecdotes, cautionary tales, historical and religeous reference and a thesis on the state of Indian wildlife consevation. The first park visited is Rathambore and the problems faced here are indicative of those engcountered by other parks across the country, with local populations and their cattle encrouching on tiger habitats. Illegal poaching is also an ever-present threat to tigers in India. Dobbie presents a good overview of Operation Tiger and the efforts to win the hearts and minds of impoverished villagers – an essential part of the conservation process. We are reminded of the role that British hunters played in the decline of the tiger, and how our attitudes towards tiger preservation have only changed in recent times. As recently as 1961 Prince Philip shot tiger in India – something that we today would find unnacceptable. Is it any wonder that the attitudes of India’s rural poor lag behind? The author’s encounters with tigers are wonderfully described and give the reader a good idea of what it must be like to come face to face with this splendid beast in all its glory. Any westerner who has visited this country will find Dobbie’s India familiar, her observations striking a chors with their own experience, often amusingly so. For example, remarks such as “Sometimes it must seem to the traveller that India is in a permanent state of fesitaval or ritual” and “It looked as if the whole of India had decided to travel, but no, this was just a normal morning for Indian Raliways” will resonate with many travellers. But it is the author’s ability to see the country from the perspective of an outsider as well as that of a native that give the work a unique perspective. She is able to get close to her subject in a way that would be difficult for the casual traveller to do. Indeed, Dobbie is a Hindi speaker and uses her many contacts and childhood reminiscnces to great effect throughout the book, communicating with everyone from Dalit sweepers to members of the former Indian aristocracy. All in all, India: The Tiger's Roar proved to be an accompished work and a personal pleasure to read. The writing is direct and flows along nicely throughout the manuscript, drawing the reader into the story. Although the reader will learn a great deal from the experience, like all the best work of this type the facts fit seemlessly into the narrative and are a source of informative entertainment. The finished book will serve as an excellent introduction to the wildlife parks of India as well as to the country and its culture. It is a joy to read work by someone so passionate about and close to her subject.
India: The Tiger's Roar
4 Nov 2004