Look Inside

Mega Mammals in Ancient India (Rhinos, Tigers, and Elephants)

FREE Delivery
Express Shipping
Express Shipping: Guaranteed Dispatch in 24 hours
Delivery Ships in 1-3 days
Item Code: HAS808
Author: Shibani Bose
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9780190120412
Pages: 379 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Other Details 9x6 inch
Weight 508 gm
Fully insured
Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
23 years in business
23 years in business
Book Description
About The Book

Since antiquity, big mammals have inspired fear as well as fantasy among humans. Not only do megafauna pervade the domains of religion, art, literature, and folklore, it is also now widely acknowledged that they can serve as important, if not always adequate, indices of environmental quality. In this book, Shibani Bose looks into eras bygone in order to chronicle the journeys of three mega mammals, the rhinoceros, tiger, and elephant, across millennia in early north India.

Carefully sifting through archaeological evidence and literary records in Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, and classical Western accounts, Bose documents the presence of these big mammals in diverse cultural contexts, from hunter- gatherer societies to the first urban civilization of India and beyond. This work aims to reconstruct human interactions with these mega species through time while trying to understand the larger ecology of ancient India.

This book is especially well-timed as the conservation of our megafaunal heritage is a major concern for biologists, ecologists, and conservationists. It underlines the need to historicize human interactions with these mega mammals with the contention that awareness regarding their past is critical for their future.

About the Author

Shibani Bose is an independent researcher, and has taught at Miranda House, University of Delhi, and also at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, USA.


HISTORY AS A CHRONICLE OF human activity is as old as the hills, the saying goes. Yet, history of the environment and other life forms we share our planet with is a recent phenomenon. The toll taken by the industrial revolution, imperial formations, and the two world wars on humans and the environment was no doubt the impulse that led to the rise of the new genre of historical writing in the second half of the twentieth century. Since other life forms cannot communicate their experience of anthropomorphic depredations, we have only our perceptions of what happened and what is happening to them and their habitats.

Coming to the history of faunal experience and ecology in India, first off the block was Jean Philippe Vogel, who, in 1962, wrote of the ubiquitous hamsa, the goose, in art and culture in ancient times. In 1977, P. Thampakkan Nair chronicled the place of the peacock, India's national bird, in art, culture, religion, and history. The histories of these birds were soon followed by those of the cheetah and Asia's lions. Their passage through history, their suffering due to human depredations, and their place in Indian art and culture were chronicled in 1995 and 2005 respectively. It is not out of place to mention that Asia's lions have had many votaries as well, including Mattias and Monika Klum, who wrote about them in Swedish in 2000! Also, Raman Sukumar gave us his seminal work on Asia's elephants in 2011 in the same genre. Tomes have been written about the tiger. India's national animal, and the subject of India's most ambitious effort in faunal conservation. Yet, surprisingly, it awaits a serious biographer who traces its travails through ancient times to the present.

Bose's research is a crucial addition to this corpus. It has a some- what different approach though, insofar as she has chosen three megafauna: the greater one-horned rhinoceros, which is endemic to India, the tiger, and Asia's elephants. The biographies of the first two are being chronicled for the first time. Her treatment of the elephant's travails adds a different perspective to Sukumar's work. Unlike other works mentioned here, Bose has confined herself to the period from the Pleistocene to c. 300 CE, and geographically to north India. These parameters of time and space have enabled her to dig deeper into varied sources where others have not ventured, particularly in the case of the tiger and rhinoceros.

The author traces the past distribution of the three animals through faunal remains, proto-historic artefacts, and historical literature up to c. 300 CE. From this it becomes evident that the rhinoceros's extreme range included Gujarat and Rajasthan, from where it has long since disappeared though it was recorded in Punjab until the first half of the sixteenth century. Evidence for the tiger, on the other hand, is somewhat scarce. It is prominent in the proto-historic period though, as witnessed on the seals of the Harappan civilization. It lasted in this area till 1886, when the last tiger was reportedly shot on the banks of the Indus in Sindh. It continued to thrive in Iran as the Caspian tiger, and survived there till 1953, when the last one there too was shot.

Asia's elephants were found in the Indian subcontinent as far west as Mehrgarh in Pakistan in the proto-historic period. It may be noted, however, that Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (1479-1425 BCE) hunted 120 Syrian elephants, a subspecies of Asia's elephants: Elephas maximus asurus. But by the time we come to the Arthaśāstra, Gujarat is its extreme western range.

A detailed analysis of the proto-historic finds and historical literature illustrates the intimate knowledge the ancient world had of these three species. For example, the solitary character of the rhinoceros, references to musth in elephants, and the touching interrelationship between the tiger and forests, where one could not last without the other, are but a few illustrations. Even today, this is startlingly so.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q. What locations do you deliver to ?
    A. Exotic India delivers orders to all countries having diplomatic relations with India.
  • Q. Do you offer free shipping ?
    A. Exotic India offers free shipping on all orders of value of $30 USD or more.
  • Q. Can I return the book?
    A. All returns must be postmarked within seven (7) days of the delivery date. All returned items must be in new and unused condition, with all original tags and labels attached. To know more please view our return policy
  • Q. Do you offer express shipping ?
    A. Yes, we do have a chargeable express shipping facility available. You can select express shipping while checking out on the website.
  • Q. I accidentally entered wrong delivery address, can I change the address ?
    A. Delivery addresses can only be changed only incase the order has not been shipped yet. Incase of an address change, you can reach us at [email protected]
  • Q. How do I track my order ?
    A. You can track your orders simply entering your order number through here or through your past orders if you are signed in on the website.
  • Q. How can I cancel an order ?
    A. An order can only be cancelled if it has not been shipped. To cancel an order, kindly reach out to us through [email protected].
Add a review
Have A Question

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy

Book Categories