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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Posts Tagged ‘Aarey Milk Colony’

The Land Mafia Schemes to Gobble Up A Wildlife Oasis in the City

Posted by Richard Conniff on May 29, 2015

Moving in on Mumbai's Aarey Milk Colony

Moving in on Mumbai’s Aarey Milk Colony (Photos: Richard Conniff)

When a builder hungers to develop a patch of open space, he finds an environmental consultant to conclude that there isn’t any wildlife living there. It’s an ecological desert, the consultant dutifully reports. A wasteland. Really, the developer is doing a public service by even offering to put a building there.

I have seen this Big Lie prevail at home, where critical wetland habitat in the Jersey Meadowlands has given way to a hideous mega-mall described, by Gov. Chris Christie, no less, as “the ugliest damn building in New Jersey, and maybe America.” And I saw The Lie at work again early this month on a visit to Mumbai, India’s largest city and the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the world.

IMG_5061

The cattle stalls in the middle of Mumbai

One of the odder things about Mumbai is that it contains a 40-square-mile national park, in the middle of a metropolis of 20.5 million people. Also oddly, the park has a very agricultural 4,000-acre appendage on its southern end called Aarey Milk Colony. The name means what it suggests: In the 1940s, the city moved dairy farmers 20 miles north to what was then forested countryside with the aim of providing a reliable milk supply for the city. About 16,000 buffalo now live in open sheds there, and the rest of the colony is a mix of woodlands and fields growing fodder for the cattle. Locals sometimes refer to Aarey as “the green lungs of Mumbai.”

But pressure to develop open land has become unbelievably fierce in the surrounding area, where population density can top 71,000 people per square mile. Developers nibble away at open space, regardless of whether they actually own it. Early this year, for instance, local journalist Ranjeet Jadhav reported that the so-called “land mafia”—developers and their collaborators in government—were selling off shanty-size chunks of Aarey Milk Colony for Read the rest of this entry »

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