Sunday 4 February 2024

Theri Sand Dunes and the Madras Hedgehog

Tamil Nadu has its own dune, and the dune has its own Timothy Chalamet- the endemic Madras Hedgehog! Last year, I had the pleasure of venturing twice into the Theri dunes of Tirunelveli, with researcher Maria Antony and hedgehog biologist Brawin Kumar, but was never lucky enough to spot the animal. Hunted for various superstitious rituals and losing wild scrub habitat to development and urbanization, the Madras Hedgehog is now becoming increasingly rare.

To readers from Tamil Nadu who may take offence at the ‘Dune’ comparison when there is already a Tamil film called ‘Theri’ starring superstar Vijay, my due apologies! While I am indeed aware of the popularity of the film, I am not sure if it has anything to do with the red sand dunes, not having watched it yet (and if it makes up for anything, I have not watched Dune yet either!)

Comic from my column with The Hindu Sunday Magazine.

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