By John Still was one of the most influential books I have ever read, and one that I go back to every now and then. The copy I have is old, yellow and brittle, its spine worn from hundreds of reads many miles from home, in the cold of London and the blaze of heat that was California. Jungle Tide was one of the books that really solidified my love for the wild and the dry zone.
Still writes beautifully of a variety of aspects of Sri Lanka's wilds, from the mountain forests, Sri Pada, the Wanni, Veddhas and my personal favourite, the Dry Zone jungles and wildlife. His anectodes are many ranging from stalking buffaloes, elephant graveyards, the devil bird, jungle charms to heal centipede bites and even losing the Governer of Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was known then) in the jungle. The charming recounting of his pet bears and leopards always made me want to keep either of the two, well mostly a leopard as a pet when I was kid. Possibly a bit unrealistic living in the middle of Colombo!
The poetic nature of the book and the overall theme of a Jungle Tide conquering all, made a huge impression on me as a youth and I strongly suggest any and all who have an interest in Sri Lanka and its wilds to read this book to truly understand what an amazing natural heritage we have and need to protect for ourselves and our future generations.
"Visions of a regimented earth where birds only sing by request are to me so much more distasteful than the age-old struggle with the jungle tide, that I rejoice in an outlook that to the commercial utiliser of applied science horribly pessimistic. I do not think man will win final victory over the jungle; but rather that the battle will go on in the future as it has in the past with alternating victories on either side, and with the tide of the jungle ever ready to rise and flow over civilisation whenever it grow too proud to keep on learning...or when it gets tired of exerting willpower...or when it makes mistakes" - John Still, 1930