The many colours of Mhadei

‘Wild Jewels of Mhadei’, a colouring book for children by Nirmal Kulkarni centred around the biodiversity of the Mhadei region has just been released


‘Wild Jewels of Mhadei’ aims to create interest and raise awareness among children about the ecological wealth found in our backyard.

The colouring book for children, which has been put together by herpetologist, wildlife photographer and artist Nirmal U. Kulkarni looks at the biodiversity of the Mhadei region.

The idea and concept of the book was born in January 2023. “My own work of compilation and notes, selecting species and brainstorming with colleagues took a few months. We also proofread it for science and child-friendly content. A close friend and naturalist Nitesh Parulekar, who is also an illustrator gave valuable suggestions and did the line drawing illustrations while the team at Printer’s Devils did the artwork and final layouts,» says Kulkarni. The printing was done by Impressions in Belgaum and they chose to release the book during Wildlife Week (October 2 to 8).

“The book aims to showcase the unique colours, forms, and shapes that wildlife is found in, from small frogs to the tiger, to create interest and curiosity among children about the amazing biodiversity of the Mhadei region,” says Kulkarni, adding that he has walked the Mhadei region and her forests for the past two decades, as a student first and now as an explorer and researcher. “The Mhadei region is like a second home to me. The biodiversity here is unique as well as important for the states of Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra.”

The book is primarily targeted at children aged five to 14. “Children in this age group are observant and keen to colour as well as learn hence we chose this age group,” explains Kulkarni.

‘Wild Jewels of Mhadei’ contains a set of 30 line drawings and their reference photographs of different wildlife found in and around the Mhadei Bio region. This includes the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary of Goa, the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary of Karnataka and the forests of Dodamarg in Maharashtra. It features images contributed by 11 wildlife photographers (Parag Rangnekar, Dhananjay Jadhav, Omkar Dharwadkar, Nitesh Parulekar, Praveen Siddannavar, Raman Kulkarni, Nirmal U. Kulkarni, Niranjan Sant, Rahul Alvares, K.P. Dinesh and Vidyadhar Atkore). Additionally, the illustrations (except the Indian bullfrog on Page 6 and the Malabar Gliding frog on Page 7is done by Fabian Gonsalves) are done by fine artist, photographer and naturalist Nitesh Parulekar who has extensive experience of birding and photography in the Western Ghats of Goa and the Konkan region. He also won the Filmfare Award for the documentary ‘Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary’ and has contributed illustrations and artworks for several nature books and participated in exhibitions.

Kulkarni further states that the images in the book were selected because these are the species that need attention and some of them are unique to the Mhadei Bio region. A short description of every species with the common name and the scientific name are mentioned.

The book is supported by the Mhadei Research Centre, a research base situated in the Chorla Ghats, which documents and studies the biodiversity of the Mhadei Bio region. It is also supported by Herpactive, an initiative started by Kulkarni 15 years ago.

“Children are the future. They will conserve the Mhadei Bio region. This is why we are taking the books to children,” says Kulkarni. “Besides this, we are also meeting stalwarts who are working for the Mhadei Bio region and presenting the book to them.”