Release the leopard!

May 26, 2021

Leopard Moon Rising, the latest book by Laurence Rose, will be released on 1 June as a paperback, on Kindle and other digital formats.

British conservationist Laurence Rose travelled to India to hear stories that are rarely told: first-hand accounts of indigenous people’s special relationships with the wildlife around them. The Warli people living in the urban forests of Mumbai use ancient art practices and traditional dance to protest forest destruction and encroachment. Like the Maldhari pastoralists of Gujarat, they live harmoniously alongside some of the allegedly most dangerous animals in the world.  In Mumbai, it is the leopard, living at the highest density of any urban big cat population.  In Gujarat’s Gir forest, it is the endangered Asiatic lion, which preys on the herdsmen’s prized buffalo. Rose delves into the values and practicalities that govern life among India’s big cats, discovering that even the tiger is revered as much as it is feared.

Asiatic Lion, Gir
Asiatic lion, Gir Forest

Along the way, he observes at first hand the devastating effect of the Asian vulture crisis, which has seen over 100 million birds die in ten years. The human cost is only beginning to be understood, with the effects on some communities hidden from official view. The country that saw the world’s first conservation principles laid down – by the emperor Ashoka, ruling the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BCE – now struggles to live by his edicts. Rapid economic growth, population growth, infrastructure development and the spread of mining and agriculture are essentially the same threats as are encountered everywhere on Earth. Opposed against them are ancient aspects of culture that deem such assaults on nature anathema. For an outsider like Laurence Rose, the roles of traditional culture and contemporary values are best understood when the two sides come together and do battle.

Laurence’s three latest books

Starting with The Long Spring in 2018, Laurence’s writing has focussed on the often overlooked cultural dimension to wildlife conservation. The Long Spring is far from the conventional nature-travel narrative it may at first appear to be. It is imbued with a sense of place, and explores our relationship with natural places as a fundamental part of culture.

Framing Nature – conservation and culture was published last Autumn, and through nine first-hand accounts, tells the stories of nine fascinating species, from eagles to ants. In so doing, Laurence is telling a tenth story, of that other species, us, and our relationship with the rest of nature.

Leopard Moon Rising is set mainly in India. Based on conversations with indigenous tribal communities, it explores the fundamental values at play in the often fragile and fraught relationship between people and wildlife. The paperback will be released on 1 June along with digital versions (available for pre-order now). Also available as a Kindle eBook (Amazon only), and in ePub format for other e-readers through channels such as Kobo, Apple Books and Barnes and Noble.

Reviewers: a watermarked pdf is available here, and a press release here.

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