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on 29 January 2001
Gavron has put together a collection of tales that will be compulsive reading for anyone interested in the current state of , and more importantly, the likely future of, Africa and its elephants. The opening account, The Last Elephant in Burundi, is a writing that will leave a tear in the eye as well as fear in the heart: is this what will happen to all African countries? It is easy to accept that dwindling elephant populations are a factual representation of a multiplicity of reasons across Africa, but the story of this, the very last elephant to live in Burundi, makes the reader aware of the complete hopelessness of what the future holds, once things have gone too far.... Elephant contact is not the sole aim of this work - contact with proper African people, as well as those whose lives have been tainted by whites; beautiful accounts of wild areas; tales of unbelievable African beaurocracy (no African writings can be without this part!); an attempt to answer the question 'why do people hunt elephant?'. This last concern is not always pretty in its descriptiveness, but then neither is the act of killing the largest land animal of them all. Although loaded towards the consevationist view, this book is a good reflection of life in Africa at present, not all of it desirable. Perhaps people will take notice of books like this, and good may come of it.
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on 4 October 2010
Having once visited Africa at age 18 with little knowledge of the continent and being bombarded by the strangeness, colourfulness, danger and harsh reality of conservation of a small area I could not help but be attracted to this book: it improved my general knowledge of the continent and equally fascinated me. The sheer effort and lengths that the journalist Gavron has gone to meet people involved with elephants with many different view points and his powers of description, particularly where the "human" aspect of elephants is involved (e.g. orphan elephants dying of shock and the sheer difficulty of raising them in captivity) exceeds all literature I have ever read or encountered on the "save the elephant" theme.
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on 19 October 2014
This book was first published in 1993, has 231 pages, 8 chapters but no photos or maps. The book is dedicated to 'Mary and Tosco'. JEREMY GARVON was enchanted by the African elephant since the age of 6, after visiting London Zoo. It took him 20 more years to get to Africa where he spent 2 years travelling between Johannesburg and Nairobi. He returned to Africa many times searching for hopeful signs for the future of Africa and its elephants.
BURUNDI had lost all its elephants in 1970s. But it still exported many tons of ivory smuggled into the country. But there was one elephants left, Jeremy goes to look for it near BUJUMBURA. With forests cut down and heavily populated, it was hard to believe there would be any wildlife left. The elephant was said to be in the RUSIZI Plains above Lake Tanganyika. The rains took the top soil off the hills and drained into the Rusizi river as thick sluggish brown water and then into the Lake Tanganyika. Jeremy eventually finds the adolescent elephant on the ZAIRE side of the river.
ELEPHANTS ARE SO HEAVY THAT IF THEY GET INTO A WRONG POSITION, THEY CAN CRUSH THEMSELVES TO DEATH. Jeremy flies to Kenya and then to AMBOSELI NP to meet 2 Masaai ladies, assistant to Cynthia Moss. He watches the bull elephants and elephant families. In NAIROBI, he meets Cynthia Moss and they discuss elephants. He remembers his meeting with George Adamson in KORA NP at Campi-ya-Simba. He also meets Joyce Poole at Kenya Wildlife Service at the gate of Nairobi NP, and they discuss elephant communications. He accompanies a Vet to Amboseli to treat an elephant's infected leg. He also observes elephants sniffing and touching elephant bones.
Jeremy flies to BANGUI of Central African Republic, to go to Dzanga-Sangha Reserve to see the last remaining elephants. He meets Melissa Rimus from California studying gorillas. Gorillas don't like elephants but need them to create forest clearings. ELEPHANTS ARE THE GARDENERS OF THE FORESTS. Back in NAIROBI, Jeremy goes to see injured Terry Mathews in Karen, and sees his bronze sculptures, especially elephants. Jeremy also meets Bill Woodley and Ian Parker and they talk about the last of the elephant men - the Waliangulu of Tsavo. In1985, he flies to TSAVO East NP with Patrick Hamilton and sees 24 freshly killed elephants in a huge huddle with all their tusks missing. All over Africa, thousands of elephants were being killed, many by wardens and rangers, under orders from people in the very high places.
Jeremy visits the RUWENZORI NP in West Uganda to see the remaining elephants, post Idi Amin destruction. He visits the David Sheldrick Orphanage in Nairobi NP and listens to Dame Daphne's story of saving elephant orphans. Next, he travels to PILANESBERG NP in South Africa to see how Kruger orphan elephants were settling in and mothered by American circus elephants. Moving on to Zimbabwe, Jeremy visits some wildlife farms. He also flies to Zaire (Congo) and visits Garamba NP and Dungu River (world heritage site), very remote and full of wildlife including northern white rhinos and elephants. He rides the last of the trained elephants from King Leopold's elephant school.
This book takes you through an interesting journey through the wilds of Africa and the plight of its wildlife, especially the elephants. Pity, there are no photos or maps in this book.
Some other books of interest are:-
(1) Elephant, Commander Blunt 1933
(2) Kingdom of Elephants, Temple-Perkins 1955
(3) Natural History of the African Elephant, Sylvia Sikes 1971
(4) Among the Elephants, Ian and Oria Douglas-Hamilton 1975
(5) Portraits of the Wild, Cynthia Moss 1979
(6) Elephants in Africa, Paul Bosman 1989
(7) Coming of the Age of Elephants, Joyce Poole 1996
(8) Elephant, Steve Bloom 2006
(9) Great Tuskers of Africa, John Marais 2006
(10)Secret Elephants, Gareth Patterson 2010
Having born in Kenya, I enjoyed reading this book.
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