Synopses & Reviews
Selected as one of the best books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly
In early 2006, National Public Radio reported that “A promising conservation effort to save one of Nepals signature endangered species is now in serious trouble, due primarily to poachers taking advantage of fighting between government forces and Maoist insurgents.” This was devastating news indeed to author and scientist Hemanta Mishra, who has spent the better part of his adult life struggling to save the Indian Rhino from extinction in his native Nepal. The Soul of the Rhino is the spirited yet humble account of Mishras unique personal journey. Fresh out of university in the 1970s, Mishra embarks on his conservation work with the help of an ornery but steadfast elephant driver, the Nepalese royal family, and handfuls of like-minded scientists whose aim is to protect the animal in the foothills of the Himalayas. Yet, in spite of decades spent creating nature reserves and moving rhinos to protected areas, arm-wrestling politicians, and raising awareness for the cause, Mishra is still fearful about the future of the Indian Rhino. To this day, Nepal is overrun by armed insurgents, political violence, and poachers who could kill off this magnificent creature for good. Filled with candor and bittersweet humor, Mishra re-creates his journey on behalf of the rhino, an ugly yet enchanting, terrifying yet delicate creature. The first book of its kind to delve into the multi-layered political labyrinths of South Asian wildlife conservation, and one mans endurance in the face of it all, The Soul of the Rhino is sure to win over your heart and soul.
"Mishra, formerly director of the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation in Nepal, began his career as a wildlife officer for Nepal's Ministry of Forests in 1967, tracking rhinos through the forest of Chitwan and helping complete the ministry's first rhino census. Determined to find ways to minimize the conflicts between humans and wildlife, particularly rhinos, Mishra studied at the University of Edinburgh and at America's Yellowstone National Park before working with representatives of King Mahendra to establish Nepal's national park system and implement programs that would help eliminate poaching and increase the rhino population; 'wildlife tourism,' for instance, not only increased awareness of animals, but helped relieve local poverty, a leading motivation behind poaching. Mishra's account of his 30-year campaign to save the rhino in Nepal include stories of exotic Hindu-Buddhist rituals, royal hunts in the jungle and his relationship with the amazingly charismatic perissodactyls, which all contrast well with detailed accounts of political and diplomatic maneuvering. Mishra's tone is unavoidably melancholy describing the rhino's uncertain fate-especially the re-emergence of poaching-but the account of his worthy struggle is enchanting, even mesmerizing, throughout." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The Soul of the Rhino is unusual, fascinating and important. It provides not only a rare insight into the personality and behavior of the highly endangered and little known Asian rhino, but an equally absorbing picture of the people who share its habitat. Hemanta Mishra is a native of Nepal and he shares his struggle to reconcile western conservation science, learned when he studied in America, with the cultural beliefs of his people; he attempts to combine hard facts with the mystical values of eastern philosophy. The Soul of the Rhino is also a commentary on the way in which wildlife management can be helped or tragically hindered by revolution, politics and the commitment, or lack of it, of those in power. Most important, it will surely inspire other young people in Asia to follow in his footsteps. I hope you will buy and read this book." --Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder - the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace
"Hemanta Mishra helped to establish Nepals famous Chitwan National Park, and he has with great dedication fought for three decades to assure the survival of its rare Indian rhino. From the unique perspective of a Nepali dealing with conservation battles in his own country, he describes his contacts with everyone from poacher and foreigner to bureaucrat, royalty and rhino. I enjoyed The Soul of the Rhino immensely for its potent conservation message, as well as its insights into a culture and the soul of the author." --George B. Schaller, Wildlife Conservation Society
It is the first book of its kind that proves that nature conservation in Asia does not only depend upon good Western science. But like politics in America, it is an art an art of the possible an art that puts human needs and culture in the forefront of environmental conservation.” --Lodi Gyari, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama"This book is much more than a story about rhinos. It is an account of the traditions, customs, and rituals of the people who live in the southern Terai region of Nepal known as Chitwan. It is also a story about how one man embarked on a cause to save this sacred national symbol from the effects of rampant habitat destruction and illegal poaching." --Leon J. Weil, former U.S. ambassador to Nepal (1984-1987)
"For anyone interested in wildlife, the Himalayan region, Hindu and Buddhist culture, this book is a delight. . . . Many well-meaning, dedicated conservation supporters have written enthusiastically about environmental, species and cultural conservation -- but Mishra has not only talked the talk,' he has really walked the walk, as the reader will learn." --Kenneth Nebenzahl, director of the American Himalayan Foundation, member of the WWF-US Council, and life trustee of the University of Chicago
"[Mishra's] a gutsy, committed man and a charming writer--and the rhinos could have no faster friend." --National Geographic Adventure
"A mix of Western science and Eastern mythology, 'Soul' could be called 'Zen and the Art of Rhinoceros Maintenance'." --Bill Heller, New York Post
"The Soul of the Rhino is a fascinating look at the heart of a conservationistand what it takes to save an iconic species." --Smithsonian Zoogoer
The story of a Nepalese who has spent his entire life safeguarding an endangered species
This new release is a spirited yet humble account of one man’s scientific career and personal journey to save the endangered rhinoceros in his native Nepal. Fresh out of university, Mishra began his work with aboriginal tribes, the Nepalese royal house, the World Wildlife Fund, and the World Bank to protect the animal in its Himalayan habitat. In spite of decades spent political arm-wrestling, traveling and fund-raising, Mishra is still fearful to this day that Maoist insurgents and poachers will kill off the Asian rhinoceros for good—a tragedy after all his hard-won gains. This is the first book about saving the Asian one-horned rhinoceros, and the only one to delve into the multi-layered political labyrinths of wildlife conservation in South Asia. Filled with candor and bittersweet humor, Mishra recreates his journey on behalf of the rhino, an ugly yet enchanting, terrifying yet delicate creature. In the tradition of Leakey and Fossey, Mishra will be hailed by the media as the animal’s advocate, and SOUL OF THE RHINO will quickly engage the soul of the reader.
Hemanta Mishra now lives in Virginia. This is his first book.
About the Author
Hemanta Mishra has worked with the Smithsonian Institution, the World Wildlife Fund, the World Bank, and Asian Development Bank and other major conservation groups. He was a key player in the international team that preserved and stabilized the habitat and is credited with halting the extinction of the rhino and Tiger populations in Nepal. He lives in Vienna, Virginia.