New book ‘Photographic Field Guide–Wildlife of South India’ released by Surya Ramachandran and David Raju

Renowned naturalists Surya Ramachandran and David Raju have released their new book ‘Photographic Field Guide – Wildlife of South India’. This is the first-of-its-kind comprehensive field guide covering all mammals, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and amphibians of the six states (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) of South India.


‘Photographic Field Guide – Wildlife of South India’ is a must have for wilderness enthusiasts as it is a true ambassador to the biodiversity of South India in its own right. It is sure to transform wilderness walks and safaris and even the way people perceive urban wilderness, starting from one’s own balconies and gardens. The book, which has 360 pages, covers 1920 species belonging to the six taxa using 1850 photographs contributed by around 280 photographers from India and beyond. It has been designed by Mugdha Sethi and edited by Faiza Mookerjee. The book is supported by WWF India and the Muthiah Research Foundation.


David Raju works as a naturalist in Central India and has authored a well-regarded field guide on his first love, the dragonflies and damselflies of Kerala. Surya Ramachandran used to be a documentary producer and now works as a full-time naturalist. He is currently an ambassador for Swarovski Optik Birding and runs a conservation tourism outfit focussed on snow leopards and other trans-Himalayan fauna in the mountains of Ladakh. Over the years, the two of them have been invited to conduct many training sessions for park guides, naturalists, wilderness lodges and various forest departments. Nothing satisfies these two as much as being an ambassador for the forest by making the wilderness more interesting and less daunting for people from all walks of life. For their efforts in the field of conservation tourism, each have been awarded the prestigious TOfT/Sanctuary Asia Naturalist of the Year. ‘Photographic Field Guide – Wildlife of South India’ is a collection of their combined 16 years of experience and knowledge, accumulated over their various explorations.


Speaking about the newly-launched book, Surya Ramachandran said, “As professional wilderness guides and naturalists, we understand the importance of simplifying and presenting complicated information in a beautiful concise manner. That is essentially what this book is all about – a powerful tool for anyone who wishes to explore and better understand the wild corners of the region. It has been three years since we started working on the book and in the end, all we want to do is get back out there and revisit all the wild spaces of South India that inspired us to make this book a reality.” 


David Raju added, “The first connect we make with anything we come across, from people we come across to objects and wild denizens, is the process of naming it. This often leads to the building of curiosity, awareness and eventually conservation in some form. This book is an effort to ensure that the process of initial identification is made easy and plant the seeds of exploration and the need for preservation of our biodiversity.”


The information presented in various sections of ‘Photographic Field Guide – Wildlife of South India’ have been vetted and added to by experts from the scientific world. These experts include Nameer P.O. (Mammals); Dipani Sutaria (Marine Mammals); Rajesh Puttaswamaiah (Bats); Praveen J, Gnanaskandan K, Ramit Singal, Ashwin Vishwanathan and Raja Bandi (Birds); Praveen H.N. and Anil Zachariah (Amphibians); Zeeshan Mirza, Vivek Philip Cyriac, Chaitanya R and Achyuthan Srikanthan (Reptiles); Sneha Dharwadkar (Turtles and Tortoises); Ashok Sengupta, V.K. Chandrasekharan and Karthikeyan Srinivasan (Butterflies); and Subramanian K.A., Jeevan Jose and Vivek Chandran (Dragonflies).


Padma Shri Romulus Whitaker, the renowned herpetologist, has written the foreword of this book. Sharing their thoughts on the book, Romulus Whitaker and Janaki Lenin said, “This is it. The ultimate handy field guide to replace all others, featuring South India’s dragonflies and butterflies, amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals.”


RARE India’s Founder Shoba Mohan, who promotes a number of conscious luxury wildlife resorts in India and the sub-continent, is a great admirer of the authors’ previous book. She said, “The Photographic Field Guide to Wildlife of Central India by David and Surya is always with me when I travel in North and Central India as it is one solid book for everything that flies, moves, stalks and runs in the wild. A similar book for the South would be valuable for my sojourns to the South now.”


Speaking about the new book, Naturalist and Guide Trainer Sarath Champati said, “Field Guides are invaluable tools in the field, which can be used by keen visitors to our Wildlife Parks and Guides alike. I am really excited to see this Field Guide to South India, which is so beautifully produced and designed! I went through its pages and am really impressed at the quality of the images and the design itself. The content, which covers so many areas like Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians and Insects, is incredibly comprehensive and at the same time, just enough to make the book compact. This makes it very practical to use it in the Field. It is truly a world-class production and right up there, matching with some of the best Guidebooks I have seen from Africa! Congratulations to the Surya and David for their dedication and hard work and I have no doubt that they have set the bar high for any future publications in this space, in India!”


This is the second such book by the authors. Their first book ‘The Photographic Field Guide – Wildlife of Central India’ was published in 2016 and it aimed to shift the focus of visitors and local guides towards the wilderness as an entity, and not just the mega species. The book covered 850 species from six taxa and covered all Central Indian landscapes from Ranthambore to Tadoba to the Bundelkand Plateau in the north. The difference brought about by that book encouraged them to write more to bring about similar awareness and change in other regions of India as well.


  • Book Name: Photographic Field Guide – Wildlife of South India
  • Authors: Surya Ramachandran & David Raju
  • Pages: 360
  • Published by: Self-Published (Publishing assistance provided by Notion Press Publishing, Chennai)
  • Releasing on: December 15, 2020
  • Price: INR 1500 in India
  • Available at: comfor buyers within India; for international buyers