Indian officials estimate that over half a million families lose crops or property to wild elephants a year. Akshu Atri, born and raised in Buxa Tiger Reserve, is one such victim. Elephants have destroyed his kitchen, regularly take over half of his annual crop yield, and have even killed some of his neighbours.
Akshu could hate elephants, but he doesn't – neither does his family nor most of their community. By telling Akshu's story – of his childhood destitution, family tragedies, romantic pursuits, entanglements with poachers and smugglers, and his tumultuous rise out of poverty – What's Left of the Jungle unravels the complex affection that rural Indians have for jungle wildlife.
Akshu's story can help us understand both why some of the tropics' most crowded landscapes still host the world's most stunning wildlife – and what we might need to do to keep it that way.