Raza Kazmi Profile picture
Conservationist I Wildlife Historian I Storyteller I Stories in @the_Hindu, @IndianExpress, @thewire_in, @RGSustain1, @SanctuaryAsia
Jun 22 27 tweets 11 min read
A thread on some natural history & anthropological observations I made while watching Bimal Roy's classic Madhumati (1958) starring Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Pran, Johnny Walker, and Jayant.

I won't discuss the entire plot, but I must recount some bits relevant to the thread. Image Dilip Sa'ab plays Anand, the newly appointed manager to a timber estate owned by Ugranarayan (Pran), a powerful zamindar (landlord). While the geographical location of the forested estate is never explicitly named, visuals of the landscape & people make it pretty obvious that + Image
Jun 8 13 tweets 5 min read
Over the years we've been wowed by stunning photographs of wild tigers, especially from India. But have you ever wondered who took the first photograph of a tiger in the wild? When? Where?

Well, here it is. Shot in 1925. The photographer: An Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer. Who was this IFS officer you ask? Well, he is a name familiar to most conservationists - Frederick Walter Champion, better known as F.W. Champion.

A 1921 batch officer, F.W. Champion served the forests of United Provinces (now UP & Uttarakhand) right until 1947. Unlike most +
May 24 18 tweets 6 min read
Excellent piece. One correction, there's a lone sanctuary dedicated to wolf preservation in India – Mahuadanr (Jharkhand), notified way back in1976 because one IFS officer, S.P. Shahi, realized as early as the 1960s that amidst the focus on tigers, wolves were quietly vanishing.+ Shahi was perhaps the first Indian conservationist to raise an alarm – nearly 60 yrs ago – that Indian wolves were hurtling towards extinction. He was also the first wildlife photographer to take portraits of Indian wolves hunting (a baited goat), in the early 70s at Mahuadanr.+
May 19 17 tweets 6 min read
*Forest Villages that record their own history*

This large stone slab is called "Hora Diri" in Mundari language, which literally means "Path/Way Stone". Hora Diris usually give general information about the village to visitors. However, this particular Hora Diri is unique. This+ Hora Diri records the village's history & genealogy. Bitkilsoya is one of the remotest forest villages of Jharkhand, located deep inside West Singhbhum's Saranda forest, very close to the Orissa border. Saranda, like most of Singhbhum, is the land of Ho Adivasis. But Bitkilsoya +
Mar 18 8 tweets 2 min read
The only two visual evidence of Caracals from Madhya Pradesh & Uttar Pradesh respectively. Incidentally, both are of cubs.

Picture 1: A few hours back I came across this fascinating image of a Caracal cub from Shivpuri (undated, but probably late 1970s) taken by P.K. Naik, IFS + who managed Madhav NP from the late 1970s to early 80s. This image was given by Naik to R.C. Sharma, his successor at Madhav, who then reproduced it in his little-known book called "The Wildlife Memoirs: A Forester Recollects" published in 2008.

Incidentally, R.C. Sharma sahab +
Jun 4, 2020 15 tweets 3 min read
Since politicians are supposedly outraged over the Kerala elephant incident, maybe the Union govt. will scrap the proposed laying of a 3rd line on the Ranchi-Delhi line that slices Jharkhand's Palamu tiger reserve & has killed dozens of elephants, including this unborn foetus. + Or is this foetus, its mother and other elephants fair game in the name of 'development'? And this brings me to the larger issue at hand. While the horrific heart-rending elephant death in Kerala has generated much outrage, there is poor understanding of the problems at hand.+
Jun 1, 2020 16 tweets 6 min read
The following is a very special story that deserves wide publicity. A fascinating tale tying together a Gond Adivasi, a British IFS officer, a man-eating tiger & British Empire's highest bravery award. I hope you're intrigued enough to read on, I promise it'll be worth your time. So, a couple of days ago I was reading a forgotten old book, 'The Book of Man-eaters' by RG Burton (1933), and was fascinated to read the account (attached below) of a Gond Forest Guard saving the life of his DFO from the clutches of a man-eater & awarded the Albert Medal for it!
Jan 23, 2020 5 tweets 2 min read
The Syahgosh (‘syah’= black in Persian, ‘gosh’= ear) or Caracal is, arguably, the least known cat species of India.The following article tries to trace the Caracal's hazy tracks through the sands of time in the enigmatic sal forests of east-central India.

round.glass/sustain/specie… Along with the Indian cheetah, the 'black-eared one’ is another cat that thoroughly fascinates and intrigues me. Infact the ‘sport’ of hunting by trained caracals was often a sideshow to the primary ‘sport’ of coursing with, now extinct, cheetahs.
Apr 16, 2019 30 tweets 34 min read
Hardline conservationists keep mum when rights of people are violated flouting laws, forest rights activists keep mum when locals slaughter wildlife flouting laws. This is the crux of the divide between most rights groups & conservation groups. (1/n)

epaper.telegraphindia.com/imageview_2648… Rights activists point out, rightly so, how conservation groups and conservationists are absent from large & small scale people's struggles against destruction of forests by industrial and infrastructure projects. However, it's also true that rights groups are equally absent(2/n)