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Book uses fictional story to tell about life in rainforests of Western Ghats

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) A new book set in the dense rainforest of Agumbe in Karnataka uses a fictional story to reflect the complexities surrounding countless changes in ancient ecologies due to rapid development, and the diverse aspirations of new generations at a time of environmental crisis.

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Written and illustrated by Malvika Tewari and edited by Deepta Sateesh, "Malekaadina Kathegalu" also records the rich diversity of other-than-human beings, and material and atmospheric changes across time.

Published by Manipal University Press, the book narrates the journey of a young girl Nitya who travels to the small village with her conservationist father.

Tewari and Sateesh say their work is an observation and retelling of real accounts of individuals whose lives are closely associated with the south Western Ghats.

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These stories are a reflection of the reality and complexity that countless other communities reside in- that of ecosystems changing rapidly under the force of urban development and aspirations of setting a balance in the future, they say.

To the residents of Agumbe, Western Ghats is much more than a biodiversity hotspot and repository of minerals. It is about cultural relations, ritual practices and connections with other-than-human sentient beings.

The close association of nature and culture in the everyday life of Agumbe is experienced by 12-year-old Nitya throughout the story.

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"Malekaadina Kathegalu is the result of a research experiment responding to and re-imagining the People's Biodiversity Register, a tool used to document biological diversity of local communities.

Tewari is a designer and illustrator who uses visual narrative to tell stories of the environment. Her projects are based in versatile landscapes such as Agumbe, the Northeast and Lakshadweep. Sateesh focuses on landscapes in conflict.

Her practice- based research, situated primarily in the Western Ghats of India, is concerned with the environment and its inhabitants, and draws on environmental humanities and philosophy. PTI ZMN RB RB

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