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Scent of a Game

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Burree Maada, the famous Royal Bengal tigress, the pride of the tiger gene-pool, is mysteriously missing from the high-security Kanha Tiger Reserve and a Wildlife Guard is found dead.

Mystery thickens as an old man’s surreal dream about his son, Ram—a highly successful NRI settled in Silicon Valley—being ravaged by a tiger uncannily begins to come true; Ganga, a brilliant Forest officer protecting tigers, is suddenly transferred; Sherry, a vivacious investigative journalist, is attacked, possibly by the wildlife mafia and a globe-trotting and debonair Maharaja and his royal guests plan to recreate old-time tiger-shikar....

Why has the NRI gone to jail for a tiger-skin that was presented decades ago to his father by an English hunter of man-eating tigers? Where has Burree Maada vanished? Kanha-Jabalpur-Katni-Kathmandu-Mandalay......where is the trail leading to? Who are the people behind the billion-dollar international business of big-game hunting and sale of tiger-parts and wildlife trophies? Who will survive the tortuous end-game between those who want to protect wildlife and those who want to use it?

Set against the backdrop of wildlife conservation, Scent of a Game is a mystery-drama about tiger-poaching, big-game hunting and the international trade in endangered species.

With its stark and unsettling storyline, this thriller transforms our understanding of not just the tiger and our environment, but life itself.

394 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2014

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Raghav Chandra

2 books5 followers

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5 stars
16 (47%)
4 stars
12 (35%)
3 stars
3 (8%)
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Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews
Profile Image for Arun Divakar.
796 reviews392 followers
August 5, 2014
A coat of stripes, blackness of the night on golden fur , eyes that burn bright in the forests of the night,500 pounds of super predator : The Royal Bengal Tiger. No animal has captured my imagination as much as this erstwhile King of the Indian jungle and no animal has made me rethink how inhuman our tribe is. This great feline is on the brink of falling of into the bottomless chasm of extinction and it is nothing but the greed of humans that speed up that fall.

Every animal poached makes this majestic creature's life on this planet more precarious and barring the Elephant, no other animal has been ruthlessly exterminated by man than the Tiger. A bullet or two will mark the passing of a true legend. There will come a day when this animal might vanish from the wild and with the way things are going, that day is not far away. The fact that there is an organized mafia behind the hunt was something I knew of but never did I know of it in much detail. This is the strength of this book for the author in the guise of fiction goes into the detail of how organized poaching smuggles the parts of the animal into China and beyond. There is extensive detail in the tale as to the routes of the poachers and wildlife mafia and how filthy rich they all are. It is a not so fictitious portrayal of the Tiger's plight in 21st century India.

The story however is a weak one. The characters are not fully formed and it gives off a feeling that the author orphaned his characters for the sake of the subject material. There are places in the story which easily points out the author as a new comer for the narrative does not maintain momentum. It runs on turbo charaged engines at times, wallows along at other times and has immense starting troubles at later points of the story. My biggest contention was the climax which was a slapdash job. A lot of loose ends tied up into a totally improbable knot.

Enjoyable for the subject matter alone.
Profile Image for Nikhil.
1 review
May 16, 2014
Nice Book to read! Author convincingly pour his sentiments against tiger poaching. This is a must read for those who are tiger lovers.

Good read, again!

Scent of a Game By Raghav
Profile Image for Ghanshyam Saxena.
1 review1 follower
December 16, 2014
Scent of Game: A soul stirring novel
With Shrunken habitat, reduced prey –base and ever increasing biotic interference, tiger a gold and black conglomeration of strips, though a regal animal in its wild domain is constantly under the ominous shadow of extinction. Though the chivalrous days of big game hunting with craze for hide – hoarding and head – counting, have gone but still the tiger remains a much more endangered species than ever before. Accordingly the nature of our tryst with the tiger has gone a sea change. Now it is being chased by the naturalist to its liar, observed as to how it gained territory, how it hunted, mated, bred and reared its cubs. There is probably no other animal in the world that has haunted the imagination of mankind to the same extent as the tiger a bland of unmitigated ferocity and unalloyed beauty. Even our grammarians of classical literature were so much captivated by its pervasive thought that they paid a tribute to its smooth, graceful and rhythmical walk by naming one of the meters in our prosody after it: The “shardul chhand “ i.e the tiger metre. It is therefore in fitness of things that Raghav Chandra, a senior IAS officer, with a keen eye on environmental conservation and a knack for story telling penned a 388 pages novel Scent of a Game hailing a mysteriously missing tigress as its heroine coupled with a duty conscious forest officer wronged by the powers that be, and a comely tenacious investigative journalist. The tigress though never physically present , pervades the entire gamut of the novel as its presiding spirit enthralled by a well spun story, as the reader wades through the pages of the novel, the notorious wild life mafia under the garb of sophisticated tourist lobby and wild life film maker patronized by the high and mighty, is totally exposed. The journalist does her news hunting at the risk of her life while digging at the trio. The story warms up with meticulously detailed hard realities of the world wide net of poaching - how the genuine tiger skin duly branded by the reputed Van ingens is substituted by a fresly poached tiger skin and how the innocent owner is jailed where he learns all the dirty tricks of the trade. The journalist at hes professional best reports dozens of missing tigers from our prestigious national parks like Kanah or Sariska whose body parts fetch dollars from the poacher’s market in far east. There is a veiled suggestion that one of those body parts could have been that of our heroine tigeress whose disappearance was never in investigated scientifically.
Raghav Chandra is a resourceful scholar- his experience and knowledge being his resource and when an author with that kind of mindset and style blessed by the gift of gab pens a book, it becomes eminently readable and a great addition to the wild life library. Here is a fiction more fascinating than fact. The message of conservation with all its hurdles is well communicated besides stirring our soul.
Profile Image for Ryan.
Author 1 book35 followers
April 24, 2017
Yet another book with a very promising premise and lots of potential but failing in the execution. Kudos to the author for his efforts at cobbling together relevant conservation related topics like wildlife trade, poaching and tiger farming into a novel length book. There is even a tiger hunt or 'shikar' thrown in for good measure at the end to liven things up. Alas that there wasn't much continuity in the plot as we follow the protagonist from one place to another that do not seem connected but appear to be random locations in Asia that the author has presumably visited. The book excels best at describing the beautiful Indian forests and countryside, but I think too much is squeezed into the book when it ventures further afield in an unnecessary attempt to add scope. The biggest flaw is the lack of a coherent plot tying the main characters together in any meaningful way. It was as if the author had no plan or outline for the book, the ending is abrupt but welcome after a long ramble.
Profile Image for Anil Swarup.
Author 3 books648 followers
May 30, 2014
The book scores on a number of fronts. It is extremely well researched. It weaves a gripping story to drive home an important conservation related issue. The character of the chief protagonist is such that the reader can relate to his agonizing and frustrating moments. The book explores a new dimension of greed of the colonial powers and of those "natives" that pandered to this greed. Though there are references to certain aspects of CITES (perhaps to lend authenticity to the concerns about wildlife conservation), the narration is simple and taut. The story moves seamlessly through various periods and regions, reminiscent of Amitava Ghosh.
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
May 28, 2014
Gripping and absorbing! ‘Scent of a Game’ is a wonderfully crafted thriller .
As Mr Raghav Chandra creates gripping plots and events around wildlife poaching,hunting and mafia associated with its trade,he gives us an unforgettable and masterful work of fiction with underlying social message on environmental concerns.
Profile Image for Prof. Zamiruddin.
1 review1 follower
May 17, 2014
Raghav Chandra’s marvelous book jolts our social conscience and deserves to be read by all those who are concerned about the preservation of environment and most importantly the impending extinction of the tiger –a fast disappearing species.
Profile Image for Sunita Yadav.
1 review
May 20, 2014
This is a crisp and wonderfully crafted mystery thriller which is a unique and multi-dimensional chronicle of tiger-poaching, shikar and the international trade in endangered species as it has occurred through the past several centuries.
May 16, 2014
Enjoyed reading the book.... it beautifully expresses the subject of paucity of tigers & the reason of their extinction.
1 review
May 16, 2014
I have read the book. Its really a good initiative by Shri Raghav Chandra for raising concern on wild life conservation. I recommend reading this book to everyone.
June 16, 2014
Great! I agree with the review of Mr. Shakti Sinha appearing in Millenium Post Dated 8th June 2014
"The very real danger of extinction faced by the species panthera pardus, tigers in common parlance, is something that we are generally aware of. The threat from poachers is not on account of the demand for tiger skins, as in the past, but because there is an almost insatiable demand for tiger bones, blood, every organ in China. The traditional Chinese belief that virility is enhanced by consuming tiger parts has emerged as the single threat to the survival of the tiger species globally as the belief is now backed by the enhanced purchasing power of the Chinese. A large transnational network has emerged out of China with tentacles in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries that obtains tiger parts and supplies them to the ultimate consumer. There is one considerable thought given to idea of breeding tigers in farms like chicken and cattle to meet the demand, and to ensure that the species does not die out totally.

In such a scenario, which is not fiction, the disappearance of Burree Maadah, a fictional famous tigress from the Kanha National Park becomes the fulcrum of a riveting story Scent of a Game by first-time novelist Raghav Chandra. It involves a high flying NRI executive from Silicon Valley, his retired teacher father in Amarkantak, a ???white??? female reporter in Jabalpur, a tribal descendant of the Sleeman Thugee who is an expert animal trapper, a dynamic no-nonsense forester, a local maharaja turned environmental film maker and a go-gooder businessman who can turn the screws of government to help out those who appeal to him. The locale shifts from Jabalpur and its environs to Myanmar, Kalimantan, Sumatra and China with bits of Mumbai and the US thrown in.

The story is fast-paced, sometimes almost breathless, with considerable twists and turns that ultimately leave the protagonists almost where they started from, but not before considerable adventure, amazing depths and occasional thermal up-drifts that eagles use to glide. Ram, the NRI comes to visit his dying father and to collect his father???s tiger skin, gifted to him years ago and now coveted by Jaya, Ram???s wife. Ram???s father had a premonition about his son, of being in a cage with a tiger, and the series of misfortunes Ram goes through has all the makings of a Greek tragedy. He loses his purse at London airport which contained not just money but his credit cards, he cannot meet his father before he dies, the tiger skin lands him in jail and then gets substituted so that he cannot get bail. One by one, other characters enter his life, some coincidentally, but each contributing to both his unravelling and his ultimate recovery. Jugnu Pardhi the trapper, the Maharaja turned environmentalist Abhimanyu Singh, the Maharaja of Baikunthpur, the unlikely ???white??? reporter in Jabalpur Sherry Pinto, the forester Ganga Bishnoi and the ubiquitous Goa sahib or Feroze Goenka, who bails out Ram from the jail but at a price. The important role played by corporate money and transnational networks in this whole scheme of things is an eye-opener and while the names and details are fictionalised, their important role is not fiction.

The author has an eye for detail and has done considerable research on not just the international debate on wildlife conservation centering around the UN-initiated CITES, but also amazingly on science of genetics and other scientific phenomena. The realistic description of life in the Manipur border town of Moreh, zoo layout and management in Sumatra, the flora and fauna of Kalimantan and city life in Yangon, for example, allows the reader to travel voyeuristically, a commendable achievement. I would particularly commend the description of the history and the life style of the Pardhis, a de-notified ???criminal??? tribe whose ancestors were the notorious Thugee, who were brutally stamped out by Col Sleeman. the portrayal is extremely sensitive, and comes from empathy, not misguided sympathy. In light of this, the whole developmental approach adopted by the paternalist state can be questioned. The book is a veritable paradise for those interested in general knowledge and old-fashioned quizzes, with every page revealing a new nugget or factoid.

Overall, the book makes for a very good read, for large parts it is unputdownable because it sustains the pace, and makes for a good mix of policy issues and an interesting story line. Now that the sea cucumber, whose habitat is the Andaman sea, is under threat from Myanmarese fishermen due to the Chinese demand for aphrodisiac, could we see a sequel in the near future?"
Profile Image for Amrita.
47 reviews47 followers
December 9, 2014

Through this book, we get a comprehensive view of the grim situation faced by our majestic national animal in the various reserved forests in India. Although it has been written as a novel, fiction appears to be just a framework on which the author wishes to hang the various nuggets of information.
In this multi dimensional tale about the threat faced by the tiger from various quarters, he has successfully delineated the unholy nexus between the politicians, bureaucrats and international poaching mafia that has ensnared the great feline and how this renders the conscientious forest officials helpless in protecting the tiger and his habitat.
He also touches upon the opportunistic exploitation of the jungle by resort owners and the casualness of the tourists who fail to view the jungle as something more than a picnic spot. The book has a heavy splattering of Indian mythology and mysticism. He briefly touches upon naxalism and tries to portray tribal lifestyle to show the age old interaction between the humans and the environment

What is interesting about the book is that Chandra has used a wide and varied cast of characters in the novel not just to make a more colourful narrative but so that all stakeholders in tiger conservation are represented – from the Silicon Valley business magnates to Chinese entrepreneurs, from selfish politicians pandering to vested interests to Abhimanyu Pratap Singh, the erstwhile Maharaja of Baikanthpur who doubles up as award winning film maker of environment film, from Gangavardhan Bishnoi, the conscientious forest officer dedicated to preserving the forests to the skilful animal poacher Jugnu Pardhi, a de-notified ‘criminal’ tribe whose ancestors were the notorious Thugee.
The narrative spans many countries like Myanmar, Kalimantan, Sumatra and China to expose a large transnational network catering to international trade in endangered species worth billions of dollars and pretty much exposes the modus operandi as well as routes frequented by the organised poaching mafia.
He has essayed the evolution of tiger poaching from the colonial times when the demand was basically for the skin, to the present when there is an unprecedented demand for other organs including tiger bones and blood fuelled by the traditional Chinese belief that virility is enhanced by consuming tiger parts.
The book has much to recommend itself-well researched subject matter presented in a simple but taut narrative. It is quite simply a superb storyline. But sadly the story-telling is where this novel looses out. Characterisation seems to be Raghav Chandra’s Achille’s heel and the dialogue writing is amateurish at best.
Theoretically speaking, these are good characters, but in reality he fails to bring them to life. They end up just being the mouthpieces to air the author’s research and opinions. During the last quarter of the novel, when he sets of on the poaching trail, all stakeholders either boast about themselves to Ram or just confides their darkest secrets in him as soon as the first opportunity to do so presents itself; which does not seem realistic at all.
Moreover, at some places, the descriptions and explanations could have been abridged to facilitate the smoother flow of the narrative. Explanations about Indian mystical connections with the story, descriptions of the surroundings as well as the mannerisms of the characters seem superfluous at times and break the momentum of the story.
I am totally willing to overlook the flaws in the story telling and would still recommend this book to everyone simply because this book gives us a bird’s eye view of the ground realities today and thereby helping us view the scenario in its entirety. The greed of the poaching mafia has reduced this great feline to just a commodity. If conscious and decisive steps are not taken immediately, we will not be able to prevent the annihilation of the Maharaja of Indian Jungles.

Complete review at http://indiasendangered.com/scent-of-...
Profile Image for Aalap Chikhalikar.
108 reviews2 followers
January 19, 2016
Loved the fact that this was the best researched book about tigers, poaching and their current conservation status in India & China. The author as others have noted has done extensive research into current resource depletion, poaching, mistreatment of local villagers as well as the extensive network of greed allowing wild animal parts to be traded world-wide. Very enlightening and required reading for anyone who cares to "save wild animals" anywhere.
I wish a more rigorous editor was used to make the characters more believable and also not have the author repeat phrases, sentences and paragraphs in the book. I found myself going past the text and lack of story to glean the useful data and research that the author so painstakingly produced.
1 review
May 23, 2014
Brilliant description of wildlife poaching, hunting, history of hunting, international mafia that deals in wildlife trade. An excellent read! A must for all wildlife and tiger lovers and those who have been anywhere near a wildlife park, sanctuary or Tiger Reserve. Very gripping and very absorbing! If you can't have enough adventure in your life, at least read this book!
May 31, 2014
Nice Novel!!!
The missing Burree Maada, though unseen and not even once physically present in the entire novel, haunts its pages like a spirit, symbolising the species of tiger that is in danger of complete extinction...
Profile Image for Ashfaq ahmad.
2 reviews
May 16, 2014
Amazing book!!
knowledge about jungle and tigers ,focused on missing Royal bengal tigress
1 review1 follower
May 16, 2014
This book was AMAZING!!!!!!!! As soon as I read the last page, I flipped it over to read it again!!!!! really loved it.
Profile Image for Zeba Hafiz.
1 review
May 16, 2014
This book is Tremendous to gain knowledge raising up the same and very nicely wrote, awareness of tigers is explained well. people must read it....!!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Ajay Nigam.
1 review
May 20, 2014
Marvelous book !!!!!!!!!!
Thriller about wildlife poaching.
i liked ...
Profile Image for Chinar Mulye.
1 review
May 31, 2014
Unfortunately, several tigers have been missing from Kanha in the recent past. It may be recalled that poachers were able to kill more than thirty-five tigers in Sariska last year......
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews

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