on 28 December 2015
This book was first published in 2007, has 154 pages, 16 chapters, 20 beautiful B/W drawings and 3 maps. It covers elephant stories in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) from 1960 to 2000. PETER BERNHARD WILKINS was born on 3.9.1929 in Southern Rhodesia. From early age he roamed freely in the bush. This is his first book. Both the author and artist were born in Africa. The book starts with 2 hungry lionesses watching a family of elephants. There were 2 baby elephants amongst that herd. When one of them playfully came towards the hidden lioness, they pounced on him. However, the cow elephant chased the lionesses away. As he grew older, the Game Rangers called him "TAGATI" (bewitched), as he could sense danger and led the elephant herd to safety.
Tagati's mother was a large Matriarch, who lived in TULI circle near SHASHI River close to Ranger's Camp. The herd was now 20 strong. A large bull "MAFUNYANE" (bad tempered one) hated humans after a poacher had shot him in his head. Now he had 2 askari (soldier) elephant bulls as his guards. In 'musth', he was sexually driven, extremely powerful, aggressive and unpredictable. After mating with a cow elephant I oestrus, he crossed the Shashi River back to his askaris. Tagati was also growing with urge to be his own. The lions managed to kill one of the baby elephants again, as the herd passed through their territory. The matriarch, in revenge, dismembered and crushed the big male lion. Then she covered his body with branches of trees.
22 months after mating, Masikana gave birth to 130kg male baby elephant. The Matriarch guarded the mother and calf. The placenta was claimed by the ever watchful leopard. At night, the elephants raided a pumpkin and watermelon field. After the elephants were chased away, they headed for Tuli. Here the hunters and their trackers followed the spoor. The hunters shot dead 2 bull elephants and the Matriarch's daughter Kusiku. When Masikana is also injured, the Matriarch takes her herd across the border into Botswana and MAKGADIKGADI Pans and the KALAHARI. They drank at the 'little England waterhole'.
Poachers were present here too, so the Matriarch took her herd back towards the east and Tuli. The Matriarch was now old and coming to the end of her life, so one day she walked away silently. In 1980, as Rhodesia changed to Zimbabwe, Ministers of the new Government went to Tuli and shot some senior female elephants of that herd with their AK47. Masikana in her mid twenties, took over the job of Matriarch and wanted to leave dangerous Tuli, moving towards GONA-RE-ZHOU, eastwards, the land of her grandmother.
Some other books of interest are:-
(1) Elephant, Commander Blunt, 1933 (1971)
(2) Kingdom of the Elephant, Temple-Perkins, 1955
(3) Natural History of the African Elephant, Sylvia Sikes, 1971
(4) Elephants of Africa, Paul Bosman, 1989
(5) Battle for the Elephants, Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton, 1992
(6) Coming of the Age of Elephants, Joyce Poole, 1996
(7) Elephant, Steve Bloom, 2006
(8) Great Tuskers of Africa, Johan Marais, 2006
(9) Secret Elephants, Gareth Patterson, 2010
(10)Ivory Horn and Blood, Ronald Ovenstein, 2013
Having born in Kenya, I found this book interesting.