India is considered one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. Given the rich variety of ecosystems and geographic landscapes, it contains over seven percent of all recorded species of plants and animals.
As the first part of the Blogchatter’s Cause A Chatter Environment Talk series, I shared book recommendations on climate change and India. Before we proceed any further, we need to take a step back. It is necessary to educate ourselves about the rich natural history of the Indian subcontinent, and India in particular. Before we get to saving the environment and conserving nature, we need to understand the biodiverse ecozones.
What is Natural History?
In simple terms, natural history is the observation of the natural world. From tiny micro-organisms to the towering mountains to humans. From their origin and evolution. With environmental degradation and climatic change, it is imperative that we are well aware of our natural heritage.
Natural History and Environmental History
Environmental history is the study of human interaction with the environment. It is needless to say, it also includes the detrimental impact humans have on the environment. When it comes to conservation or climate change, natural history, and environmental history are not really exclusive from each other.
There are numerous books on natural history. But most are limited to field guides or textbooks. Today I recommend must-read books on the natural and environmental history of the sub-continent. Given the nature of the books, I am only limiting my recommendations to two of my favorites.
Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent
by Pranay Lal
Did you know that the rivers Ganga and Brahmaputra sequester nearly 20 percent of global carbon? That Bengaluru owes its unique climate to a tectonic event that occurred 88 million years ago? Or that Rajasaurus, an Indian dinosaur that was perhaps more ferocious than T-Rex?
If there is one single book you must read on the natural history of the Indian subcontinent, it is Indica by Pranay Lal. Acclaimed as the first compelling narrative of India’s deep natural history. Consider it an encyclopedia of sorts. This book is a keeper.
Unlike textbooks that can be too dull, this is an engaging read. I admit when I first picked it up, I did not expect it to be as captivating. The author with the art of storytelling takes you on a journey as you unearth the secrets from the fossils. Corals in the sand dunes of Jaisalmer. Hippos in the Kashmir valley.
The book also reflects on the fact that time is running out. How fossils are sold in the black market as collector’s items. How, in some cases, the measures to save the environment are mere tokenism. And conscious and effective actions are imperative now than ever before.
I highly recommend the book!Essential Reads on the Natural & Environmental History of India #CauseAChatter #EnvironmentalTalks #BookChatter @blogchatter #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
Wild Himalaya: A Natural History of the Greatest Mountain Range on Earth
by Stephen Alter
Roughly 2,500 kilometres in length and between 150 and 350 kilometres in breadth, rising to a maximum height of almost 9 kilometres above sea level. Traversing across five different countries – India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and China The majestic Himalayas holds a lot of secrets.
There are numerous books on the Himalayas but none quite as comprehensive as Wild Himalaya: A Natural History of the Greatest Mountain Range on Earth by Stephen Alter. Divided into eight sections, it explores the different aspects of the majestic mountain range. An in-depth study of origin, evolution, history, geology, geography, environment, flora, fauna, climate, human settlements, art, folklore, and mythology.
The mystery about the existence of Yeti finds a place in the book among the complex data of the origins and history. Peppered with local tales and myths, it is a delightful read. A definitive natural history of the greatest mountain range on earth.
Stay tuned as I would be sharing more recommendations on a range of topics under Enviromental Talks. What are your favorite books on natural and enviromental history? I would love to explore them. Do share in the comments below.Essential Reads on the Natural & Environmental History of India #CauseAChatter @cindyanndsilva @nooranand #BlogaberryDazzle #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
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