Animals with rich histories: 
the case of the lions of Gir forest, Gujarat, India

@ATREE auditorium at 11:00 a.m. on 19th September, 2014

This talk explores how far animals are or are not endowed with a sense of history. The century-long history of lion–human interaction in the lions’ last habitat in Asia—in India’s Gir Forest, Gujarat State—is the focal point of analysis. In turn, there have been longer-term shifts since ancient and medieval times. Aside from two specific phases of breakdown, Gir’s lions rarely attack people. To comprehend why this is so, both the lions and humans need to be seen as products of history. Although it is going too far to endow the lions with historical consciousness, Gir’s lions clearly do have memory of memories. Over a half-century since hunting ceased, living on a mix of domestic livestock and wild prey, they now co-inhabit not only the forest but a much larger territory in close proximity to resident people. Their case calls for rethinking both animal and human histories to allow for associate species that adapt to human presence, and are capable of memory.

About Mahesh Rangarajan
Professor Mahesh Rangarajan is the Director of Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, New Delhi. He has studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford and taught at Cornell, Delhi, Jadvapur and the National Centre for Biological Sciences , Bangalore. He was till recently Professor in Modern Indian History at the University of Delhi.
His most recent works include the co edited Environmental History as if Nature Existed( 2010), India's Environmental History( 2012) and two books in press, Nature without borders and Shifting Ground. He is also working on a collection entitled Nature and Nation.