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Terence S. Underwood, A Vanishing Breed

Artvoice has published a number of letters sent to us by a dapper gentleman named Terence S. Underwood, or Ted, as he prefers to be called by friends. Underwood’s life story—he’s in his eighties—would make a sweeping cinematic spectacle to rival Lawrence of Arabia.

Today he dropped by for a brief chat, to share some photographs of himself and his father in late 1930s India, where his dad served as an official for Britain. He also shared some pictures of his lovely wife and children, and some pieces he’d written for various hunting magazines over the years.

He was quick to point out that he rarely hunted “the big cats,” but he had stumbled upon the two leopards above while they were mating. They charged, and he replied. He also spoke about the importance of conservation, and preservation of habitat. He added that war not only destroys human habitat, but also affects animals—a fact too often ignored.

Underwood served as an officer in the British Army in Palestine, and he has a keen perspective on current events, formed through years of experience. He is passionate when speaking or writing about the United States, his adopted home. He also has some tales to share that would make Ernest Hemingway envious.

This brief but astonishing account, published years ago in Outdoor Life is but one example of his adventurous exploits.

  • WNYMind

    Nice photos of the underwood family murdering big cats. I realize it was in the 1930s, but still, why show this junk to us now. Mayber Underwood can head to the polar ice caps to kill some polar bears.

    This is about as sad as the guys in GA who killed Bigfoot and stuck him in a freezer.

  • Terrence S. Underwood

    WNY Mind? Please read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest:

    We live in a world today that thinks nothing of decimating all of nature. I grew up in the India of the 1930s and early 40s. Dense forests covered 80 percent of the country. It teemed with wildlife of every kind, rivaling better known Africa’s.

    When the Mogul emperors ruled India until 1857, unrestricted hunting almost made India’s wildlife extinct. Then, in 1920, a new Indian Forest Service under England’s guiding hand, introduced strict game laws to protect wildlife and natural habitat.

    Game of all kinds increased. That continued to the point where strictly limited hunting licenses could be sold, to help pay for Forest Service personnel.

    A vital ingredient in the mix of wildlife, human, and habitat interaction was the need to restrict cutting trees and clearing protective underbrush to build villages for jungle dwelling tribesmen. Control of space where man could live, and game hunted, under strict hunting laws, provided a healthy mix for all life in India. Superbly so.

    Today, only some 10% of the original forests remain. Wildlife has mostly disappeared, except in game parks. A haven, not so much for wildlife but for poachers. Revenues that paid for protecting wildlife and natural habitat? Gone.

    When we hunted, the laws were enforced. The number and species of game animals shot under license was strictly limited. Balance between hoofed game and predators was maintained by Divisional Forest Officers, Range Officers, Forest Guards. All of which has nearly disappeared.

    We now live mostly in a false artificial world. Wildlife and natural habitat have increasingly become the forgotten victims of drastic change and war. I tried very hard to help save India’s wildlife. The odds were heavily stacked against me. I also tried to help—in a smaller way—Iran’s wildlife. I put my life on the line, working for peace, after serving close to five years in World War II in the Indian (not British) Army. I happen to be English.

    What has WNY Mind done for peace and the preservation of wildlife?