When Sunil is sent to stay with his Uncle Vish, he doesn’t know quite what to expect. All he knows is that he’s going a long way from the city to the jungles of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where it’s Uncle Vish’s job to protect the area’s tigers. Sunil soon befriends a tribal girl named Jungu, and through their friendship, he is forced to ask some tough questions. Jungu’s village is in the forest, but if the tigers are allowed to stay, she will have to move out. But where to? And don’t the Baiga villagers have a right to live there? Meanwhile, there’s a very real and dangerous gang of poachers operating nearby. Jungu, the Baiga Princess is a delightful tale of an unusual friendship that introduces readers to the magical world of the Baigas and reinforces the importance of protecting the natural environment. Vithal Rajan includes a compelling afterword that provides background on tribal rights and a brief history of the tribes of central India, the Forest Rights Act, and the dangers of development and deforestation. And the book is beautifully illustrated by naturalist Srivi Kalyan, whose drawings re-create Madhya Pradesh’s endangered ecosystem.
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