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The Last Wave Paperback – 14 May 2014
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About the Author
Pankaj Sekhsaria is a researcher, writer, photographer, campaigner and academic. He has worked extensively in the field of environment and wildlife conservation with a particular focus on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He has been writing regularly on related issues for the English media since 1998, and is the author of two non-fiction books based on the islands: Troubled Islands (2003), a collection of his journalist writings, and The Jarawa Tribal Reserve Dossier: Cultural and biological diversity in the Andaman islands' ( Jt. Editor, 2010). He lives in Hyderabad with his wife and four-year-old son.
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Thanks to my ignorance I was completely unaware about the crucial burning issues related to the island. The book enlighten me about the dwindling number of crocodile from the marine ecology due to illegal hunting and poaching. The slow and gradual depletion of thick rain forest due to the cutting of trees for timber and settlement. It was outraging to read that the forest department was responsible for it. That under their supervision such a condemnable act is taking place.
Hunting and deforestation were posing serious threat to the survival of the Jarawa tribe in the island. Jawara community is one of the most primitive adivasi tribe of the island and are the one who fiercely protected the rainforest. Cutting of the forest forced them to enter the civilized area looking for food. Due to the little knowledge from both the sides, both Jarawa and civilized people looked upon each other as threat. Moreover, naked Jarawa especially women are ogled and photographed and are looked upon as objects for sightseeing. Politicians and policemen are further proving to be useless and a menace. Their policy will let to extinction of the Jarawa tribe.
Apart from these burning issues, the author also writes about the history of Andaman and Nicobar island with some interesting stories. I also loved the part where author has vividly described the entire process of egg laying by sea turtles and hatching of mother crocodile’s egg. It was mesmerizing to read. And equally heart-rending was to read the rising and deadly waves of 26th December, 2004 which nearly destroyed the island and many countries in around sea.
I completely agree with the author that Jarawas are not for things for sightseeing and exploitation but should be protected as they are the real champions of forest reservation of the island. They are harmless and could live in harmony with the so called civilized mainlanders. Jarawas like the rain forest are natural beauty of mother Earth let's preserve them instead of wiping them out.
Definitely eager to visit this place both as tourist to explore the beauty of the island and as a person who has been enlighten about this place and its issues.
This book has been with me for a while, because I like to savour and read in "sips", reflecting and imagining using my mind's eye about how this island looks like and let the stories sink into my memory.I carried the book with me, to Grahamstown and Pretoria in South Africa and Mbabane in Swaziland....read it in bus stops, trains, airports, at guesthouses, in the garden and in the comfort of my home.
"Harish" and "Seema", the two main characters remained with me all along....invoking emotions and raising desire in my mind to visit this beautiful island. The "Jarawas", the indigenous tribe of the Andamans, fascinated me...I wondered how it would be to be one-with-nature and live in the forests...I also wondered what their future was, when "modernisation" and "development" push them to fringes. The book left me to feel seriously concerned about them.
The author's narratives of the sights of the island were delightful.... from dolphins swimming, to the crocodiles found at night to the great turtles laying eggs...to the stories behind the naming of local places (the mysterious Maya of Mayabundar and history of the name-Karen).
The ending put a lump in my throat and my moistened eyes tried to read further to fathom the impact of the tsunami and understand how fragile the islanders were...especially the Jarawas, when, a simple disease, could threaten their existence.
Thank you, Pankaj for bringing this island close to us through your book. As I begin reading your next book "Island in Flux", I carry with me the wonderful milieu of the Island, its culture, people and environment.... it also weighs heavy on my heart to realize how fragile everything is.
But it never fails to amaze me, how tiny we all are compared to the mighty powers of nature
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