Making Room for Elephants


By Archana Natraj

Little Bumoni lives across the river from the Kaziranga National Park. She loves eating bananas and her backyard is bursting with banana trees. Every part of this amazing  plant finds its way into her life – the stems  are used to make boats and bowls, the blossoms are cooked into curry and the leaves are turned into biodegradable plates that are later fed to the cows! But one day, a herd of wild elephants barge in from the forest, eat all the bananas and trample the plants. As it becomes a daily intrusion, the worried family scrambles for ways to stop the plunder. When Bumoni finds a way to repel the elephants, the family rejoices and sleeps peacefully. However, it dawns upon kind little Bumoni that she has not solved the problem but simply diverted it. What will the elephants eat now? 

Through Bumoni’s Banana Trees, published by Tulika and originally written in Assamese, author Mita Bordoloi speaks volumes on understanding the consequences of wildlife habitat loss and the paramount need to coexist in harmony with the natural world. Tarique Aziz’s delightful illustrations add a special, affectionate touch to this tale. The vivid sunset illustration showing the animals of the national park, with the one horned rhino, hoolocks and herons is a treasure! However, the most heartwarming bit about this book is that it’s based on a true story.

Human-elephant conflicts are extremely common in India. With its large elephant population, Assam is especially vulnerable. Every year, several elephants fall victim to deterrents like arrows and electric fences. The newspapers are full of grizzly tales of injured or dead elephants. Meanwhile, the perspective of local people usually goes unreported. Yet, solutions are being found on the ground and this endearing and inspiring story makes one such formidable effort come alive for nature lovers of all ages.

Also available in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali and Assamese

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