If you are worried about the tiger crisis and wish to initiate some discussions with your students, I’d recommend Ranthambore Adventure, the only one of its kind I have seen coming from India. Deepak Dalal, the man who writes about the Indian terrain in his Vikram Aditya stories is doing a fantastic job of telling some very important stories to young readers.
I am yet to catch up on his other books – Andaman Adventure, Lakshwadeep Adventure, Snow Leopard Adventure, Sahayadri Adventure, etc. But I absolutely loved the Ranthambore Adventure because it’s a good book on the beautiful animal that is fighting to remain on Earth. Vikram Singh and Aditya Khan are two young boys, intelligent, sensitive and adept at solving mysteries.
In this book, Aditya finds himself going after a known tiger poacher, Shankar Chand. Call it bravado or foolishness, he sets out after the poacher and manages to get hold of Shankar Chand’s diary. Vikram meanwhile is in Ranthambore, waiting for his friend to join him. Little does he realise that Aditya will land in Ranthambore with Shankar Chand’s men at his heels. While Vikram and Aditya fight off the poachers and try to reach proof of their involvement to the wildlife officials, the book tells us another story.
The story of the tiger cubs Genghis and Padmini. It begins with their birth and Genghis soon occupies an important place in the sequence of events. Dalal has managed to create a great bond of empathy and one worries for Genghis. We shadow him through the book, through his first kill, his striking out on his own, his pain…Genghis’s fight for survival in a poacher-ridden world is consumed with a sense of urgency. And urgent it is, with the dwindling numbers of tigers. This sense of urgency is transferred to the chase between Vikram and Aditya and the poachers and it becomes apparent why the poachers must be contained without delay.
The stories of Genghis and Vikram and Aditya intersect when Genghis’ life is in danger, and the boys are at their wits’ end. While this book has a happy ending, it also sends an important message out, that in reality, the tigers are not safe. The time for their extinction does loom over our heads and it is still perhaps possible to delay the inevitable.