The new language and practices of globalized environmental governance have a complex colonial genealogy. This case study delineates postcolonial continuities and shifts in regulatory, documentary and enforcement practices of biodiversity conservation and wildlife protection in India. Based on ethnographic material from the Gir forest, it analyses the twin processes of nature-making and state-building from the social and territorial margins of the state. These arbitrary and repressive practices involve a complex interplay of state laws, World Bank credit conditionalities and various sets of international norms advocated by conservationist and community-based human rights NGOs. Some dilemmas of a decolonization of the imagination in the South are considered with regard to trajectories of globalization of law.