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Book Alert

Nomads on the Brink

India’s Van Gujjar herders relate to their water buffalo in a way that many of us cannot imagine. “They think of them as family members,” writes photojournalist Michael Benanav in his new book about these Muslim nomads. “If one dies, they mourn for it as though it were human.” The Van Gujjars are vegetarians; they use the animals only for milk. But with the government pushing to turn tribal lands into national parks, the future of the 30,000 of these herders who are still abroad in the forests of northern India is uncertain.

Benanav spent 44 days with the Van Gujjars for the book, Himalaya Bound: One Family’s Quest to Save Their Animals and an Ancient Way of Life. Photo: M. Benanav.

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