Somesh Goyal comes up with a book on tigers which he says will enable everybody to relate with the majestic animal

Tiger, a majestic creature, continues to capture the imagination of not just wildlife enthusiasts but creative minds too. Books on the elusive animal remain in good flow, seeking the attention of book lovers and particularly those who closely follow the news arising from this area of our ecology. So how different can one book be from another, especially when the genre of coffee table books is brimming with pictures?

“It is not a specialist book. A lot of people have come out with books which are crammed with jargon but mine is not. It is a layman’s book because I want everybody to read it and enjoy the tiger,” says Somesh Goyal, Inspector General, Border Security Force, about his upcoming book Stripes in the Wild (published by The book will be launched next week at India Habitat Centre and on the occasion, Goyal is organising an exhibition of images culled from his vast collection of wildlife work he has painstakingly built over the years.

An avid wildlife photographer, Goyal feels, he couldn’t have said it better than this. Minimal text accompanies the images of tigers taken across various tiger reserves in the country including Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Panna, Ranthambhore, Sariska, Kabini, Kaziranga, Manas, Nameri, Dhapa, Tadoba, etc. “A tiger is a tiger. So, yes how much variety can you bring in tiger portraits? What I do is I shoot the tiger in its entirety, in its habitat,” says the IPS officer-cum-photographer. So images like those of a pregnant tigress in water, a tiger seated on a rock or a tiger wading through the river in Sunderbans fill up his book.

While tigers in Ranthambore, Kanha and Bandhavgarh are relatively easier to sight it is a difficult task in places like Rajaji National Park and Dudhwa. “Sunderbans is another story. Low visibility and accessibility to the interiors are major hindrances but being from BSF I was lucky to be posted in Kolkata. Protecting the Indian part of Sunderbans, we have the fastest boats at our disposal. During my visits there, I saw tigers swimming across the river about five times and it was a record of sorts. Tigers in Rajaji National Park, Dudhwa, Nameri are shy as opposed to their counterparts in Ranthambore and Kanha. Tigers in Ranthambore come very close to your vehicle but they don’t attack. They understand that we are not there to harm them.”

With a view to give a pan-India experience of tigers to the readers, Goyal has included his work made during his trips to various tiger reserves known and not so well-known ones as well like Manas, Nameri and Tadoba. “Again, tigers are not easy to sight here but there is a picture I got in Tadoba in Maharashtra where the tigress is growling at me.”

There are three chapters in the book — ‘on the iconic tigress of Ranthambore, Machchli’, ‘eye-to-eye with the King of the Corbett’ and ‘Sunderbans’. For his contribution to the conservation efforts in the Sunderbans delta, Goyal was even awarded the State Wildlife Conservation Award for 2006 by the West Bengal government.

“But there is nothing better than seeing a tiger move in a jungle. And even after having seen a tiger 1000 times, the sight still holds so much magic for me. I don’t know how many times I have left my meal halfway or quit whatever I was doing at the moment, when I got to know of a tiger’s presence in the vicinity. I just wanted to see the tiger,” says Goyal, who is also the founder president of Himachal Birds, a forum for the cause of avian habitat conservation.

(In the exhibition titled “India Wonderfully Wild” Goyal has included his work on three endangered and vulnerable animals — tigers, rhinos and elephants. The exhibition is on at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre till 28 June.)