University of Massachusetts Boston professor and leading conservation biologist Kamal Bawa and conservation photographer Sandesh Kadur announce the release of their book Himalaya: Mountains of Life.
Five years in the making, the book focuses on the Eastern Himalaya-the first time the region's threatened biodiversity and cultures have been documented together by a preeminent conservation biologist and world-class nature photographer.
Kamal Bawa is a Distinguished Professor of Biology at UMass Boston, where he has taught since 1974. The book is published by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), a Bangalore-based environmental think tank founded by Bawa. The publication was marked by launches in three Indian cities (Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi), as well as in Boston.
Bawa and Kadur had previously coauthored Sahyadris, India's Western Ghats. Published in 2005, Sahyadris highlighted the biocultural diversity of the Western Ghat mountain range in western India, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The two books, on two of the recognized hotspots of biodiversity found in the country, represent Bawa's and Kadur's commitment to bring India's rich biocultural heritage to life on the page, celebrating its uniqueness and communicating its importance to a wide international audience through compelling words and state-of-the art digital photojournalism.
"The Himalaya-land of Gods, of ancient mountain kingdoms, of icy peaks and alpine meadows-is like no other place on Earth. The life and landscapes of the region are as diverse, spectacular and fragile as the mountains themselves," says Bawa, who has been conducting fieldwork in the Himalayas for nearly five decades.
"Even today, these mountains hold many mysteries: unnamed species, primeval cultures and the promise of magical cures to heal all of humanity," adds Kadur.
The importance and novelty of this book lies in weaving together perspectives on the region's land, water, biodiversity and peoples into an extraordinarily rich and diverse tapestry of words and images. The book portrays the Eastern Himalayas as a melting pot of ancient cultures, languages, and religions. Fascinating, often intimate back-stories of natural phenomena are revealed-such as that of the precious herbal medicine Yartsa gunbu, a parasitic complex involving a fungus and the caterpillar of the Ghost Moth that lives and breeds on the Tibetan plateau.