Animal Kingdoms

Animal Kingdoms

Julie E. Hughes
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Animal Kingdoms
    Book Description:

    Animal Kingdoms reveals the far-reaching cultural, political, and environmental importance of hunting in colonial India. Julie E. Hughes explores how Indian princes relied on their prowess as hunters of prized game to advance personal status, solidify power, and establish links with the historic battlefields and legendary deeds of their ancestors.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-07478-1
    Subjects: History, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 Introduction: A Leopard in the Garden
    (pp. 1-38)

    On a late summer evening in 1918, in one of the many princely states of Rajasthan in northwestern India, a leopard wandered into a verdant lakeside garden crowded with spent mango and ripening jackfruit trees.¹ Perhaps seeking a comfortable resting place, or else retreating from the excited shouts of gardeners tending the local prince’s private grounds, the leopard scaled the upper branches of a fantastically overgrown Malabar nut tree, or possibly a towering neem.² Safely out of reach and with the commotion below fading off towards the north, in the direction of the nearby royal palace, the animal draped itself...

  6. 2 Princely Sport and Good Tiger Grounds
    (pp. 39-83)

    Over the summer months in the early years of the twentieth century, tigers used to cross the dried-up channels of the Betwa river in Central India to visit Karkigarh island. There they roamed along boulder-strewn shorelines, through intermittently cultivated flats, scrub jungle, and isolated stands of teak that lightly forested the interior. Karkigarh’s itinerant tigers shared their 800-acre island habitat with wild boar, sambar, chital, leopard, and a variety of smaller beasts and birds. Peasant cultivators came here seasonally to plant and tend their crops and, less frequently, foresters to harvest the valuable teak. From time to time, princely shooting...

  7. 3 Exceptional Game in Powerful Places
    (pp. 84-136)

    A small bunker-like structure, weathered into streaks of red ochre, cement grey, and lime white, stands on the grounds of the Kalka Mata botanical nursery just south of the Pichola lake. Lightly shaded by an open canopy of drought-resistant foliage and completely surrounded by exposed earth and parched grass, the building’s door opens onto a different world. Inside, brilliant blue and green pigments shine against a backdrop painted in rich browns and warm tans. Beautifully maintained shooting towers in diverse shapes and sizes, embellished with colored-glass window panes and architectural flourishes, dot the forested hillsides and open plains that cover...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. 4 Controlling Environments for Progressive Sport
    (pp. 137-184)

    After reports of severe famine following an extended drought led Lord Curzon to defer his 1899 tour of Rajputana to a more favorable year, the Maharaja of Bikaner, Ganga Singh, presented the viceroy with a photograph album documenting relief measures undertaken in his state.¹ Bound in maroon leather decorated with gold leaf, this album portrayed the famine not so much as a tragedy threatening the lives of humans and animals but as a golden opportunity—and one Ganga Singh was successfully embracing—to effect progressive change in Bikaner. At his leisure, the viceroy could peruse images of orderly famine camps,...

  10. 5 Martial Pasts and Combative Presents
    (pp. 185-221)

    In 1912, the Viceroy Lord Hardinge enjoyed some of India’s finest wildfowling in the Jat state of Bharatpur, where he contributed to a bag of over 3000 duck. Shooting from the maharaja’s exclusive Viceroy’s Bund, Hardinge was amused to discover that “instead of dogs,” he had been provided with “four naked Imperial Service soldiers to retrieve from the water.”¹ Created by Lord Dufferin in 1888 to fight “side by side” with regular soldiers, Imperial Service Troops were deployable at government command and never entirely at a prince’s disposal.² Competent enough as wildfowl retrievers in Bharatpur, Bikaner, and elsewhere, these soldiers...

  11. 6 Threatened Kingdoms of Dwindling Beasts
    (pp. 222-268)

    Not a single tiger lived within fifty miles of Dungarpur in 1909. Two decades later, only one “occasional visitor” could be found.¹ This small Rajput state just south of Mewar once boasted a respectable tiger population, supported by a prey base including plentiful sambar, nilgai, and chital. And yet, despite the last maharawal making “every possible effort” to restock the jungles with royal game up through his death in 1918, the region’s sporting environment remained in a fragile state throughout his successor’s minority. Frustrated by the persistent absence of tigers after ten years of Regency Council rule, Dungarpur’s young Sisodia...

  12. 7 Conclusion: Leaving the Garden
    (pp. 269-278)

    The Maharajkumar Sadul Singh of Bikaner recorded a passing thought in his private game diary in 1926 that many colonial sportsmen—including Fateh Singh of Mewar, Pratap Singh of Orchha, his own father, and most Englishmen—would have deemed unconventional, even heretical: “if a real good stag or a large [leopard] or bear turned up soon after the commencement of the beat and before the tiger appeared, I think it would be worthwhile every time to have a shot.”¹ With these words, Ganga Singh’s youthful heir accepted the risk that premature rifle fire would turn a tiger away from his...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 279-292)
  14. Index
    (pp. 293-304)