First Person: My father always said that it is not facts or preaching or lessons that will connect children to nature, it is stories. Stories, like music, have the power to move, to change. When I started writing for children, I armed myself with stories, even if they were the non-fiction kind, and began unleashing them.–
Arefa is an author, traveller, columnist and the ex-honorary Wildlife Warden of Udaipur.
She also calls herself a Junglee. Thanks to her naturalist father, Dr. Raza H. Tehsin, who is fondly known as the Vasco Da Gama of the Mewar forests, she grew up in the midst of the Aravali jungles and wildlife. As a child she was often found trying to catch a snake or spin a yarn. Treading jungles with her naturalist father has always been a delightful experience for her.
Her father was among the earliest hunters turned conservationists. He would fight for wildlife conservation like “I wouldn’t fight for my own family.” Jungles and wild animals were as much a part of her growing up, as was going to school.
Arefa contributes columns and travel articles to The Indian Express, The Hindu, Deccan Herald and various other dailies and magazines. She has authored fiction and non-fiction books for children and young adults and adults, mainly on wildlife.
Her books include The Globetrotters, Steed of the Jungle God: Thrilling Experiences in the Wild, Wild in the Backyard, Iora and the Quest of Five, Do Tigers Drink Blood and 13 Other Mysteries of Nature, Land of the Setting Sun and Other Nature Tales, Tales from the Wild and The Elephant Bird (a picture book translated in more than 30 languages).
According to Arefa, writing the kind of books she does involves a lot of reading. One has to read about the animal’s behaviour, habits, likes, dislikes, neighbours, homes and the threats they face. She hopes to travel to lands she had not seen before, and living the lives of her fictional characters, as well as those of the myriad characters yet to be born.