Raghav Chandra

I.A.S 1982 batch

Scent of a Game


Mystery-drama-thriller about tiger-poaching, big-game hunting and the international trade in endangered species against the backdrop of conservation


Tsunami in the Jungle!
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.

Page 1: The tiger skin shone brilliantly in the pre-lunch Jabalpur sun. Of the two men who spread it in front of the chai-shop, Ramchandra Prasad—the older one with a shaved head and gentle, hesitating hands, had a natural poise establishing his higher position in life. That he had come from the United States was evident from his elegant, though creased, Hilfiger jacket and the airline-tag on the Hartmann bag by his side. Jugnu Pardhi, the younger man with gaudy sunglasses, and tight-fitting jeans that did little to conceal the bulge of a fat wallet, displayed the confidence of a local.

The gleaming skin on the bench also cast its spell on the chaiwallah, who begged to feel it. He turned down the radio and quickly jumped off his shop on stilts before Ram could say a word.

‘Tiger is truly king of the jungle,’ he said admiringly, looking at the others. He poured chai into glass mugs from his aluminum kettle, wiped his hands thoroughly against his shirt and caressed the gold and black skin. ‘Sheer velvet…Burree Maada must have been at least ten or twelve feet big when she ruled the jungles of Kanha. What say you, Jugnu?’

Burree Maada was the famous Royal Bengal tigress that had vanished recently from Kanha Tiger Reserve despite camera traps in the core area and a radio-collar around her neck. No evidence of territorial fights between felines had been detected. No carcasses of dead tigers, let alone of this mature tigress, had been found. The matter had attracted instant local and even international media attention because of the massive ongoing national conservation program. Quite expectedly, the government had been hauled over the coals by the opposition for this failure.