Secrets of the savanna : twenty-three years in the African wilderness unraveling the mysteries of elephants and people

by Owens, Mark, 1944-

Format: Print Book 2006
Availability: Available at 4 Libraries 4 of 4 copies
Available (4)
Location Collection Call #
Brentwood Library Nonfiction 960 Owens
Location  Brentwood Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  960 Owens
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction QL737.P98 O95 2006
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
Call Number  QL737.P98 O95 2006
CLP - Squirrel Hill Non-Fiction Collection QL737.P98 O95 2006
Location  CLP - Squirrel Hill
Collection  Non-Fiction Collection
Call Number  QL737.P98 O95 2006
Shaler North Hills Library Non-Fiction 599.674 O
Location  Shaler North Hills Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  599.674 O
From the best-selling authors of Cry of the Kalahari, the dramatic story of Mark and Delia Owens's last years in Africa, fighting to save elephants, villages, and, in the end, themselves.

Crossing stick bridges over swollen rivers and battling swarms of tsetse flies, Mark and Delia Owens found their way into one of the most startlingly beautiful, wild places on earth, the northern Luangwa Valley in Zambia. As they were setting up camp to launch their lion research, gunfire echoed off the cliffs nearby. Gangs of ivory poachers were not only shooting the elephants but also virtually enslaving local villagers. Against unimaginable odds, Mark and Delia stopped the poaching by helping the villagers find other work, start small businesses, and improve their health care and education.

Living with wild creatures all around (lions sleeping at their toes, an orphan elephant dancing a jig in camp), Mark and Delia observed surprising similarities between the behaviors of humans and those of other animals. The bonding among young female animals and the competition among males reminded them of their own childhoods. As the elephant population slowly recovered from poaching, the Owenses saw parallels to human societies under stress. Older elephants, killed for their tusks, had taken with them the knowledge that had been passed down to the young for generations. The slaughter of the elders led to chaos -- single mothers without older females to guide them, solitary orphans, rowdy gangs of young males -- and a scientific mystery: how could there be so many babies and so few females old enough to be mothers? A young orphan they named Gift eventually provided the clue to the remarkable discovery that revealed the elephants' secret.

After the local ivory poachers were put out of business, they shifted their sights from the elephants to the Owenses. To save themselves, Mark and Delia took a lesson from the elephants, employing one of the last secrets of the savanna.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Mark and Delia Owens, who have studied lions in the Kalahari Desert ( Cry of the Kalahari0 , 1984) and elephants in Zambia and Mozambique ( Eye of the Elephant0 , 1992), now write more fully of their years in Zambia. When the Owenses arrived at North Luangwa National Park in the mid-1980s, the park had been abandoned to poachers. Corrupt local officials, and even the scouts who were hired to protect the park, were making huge profits while decimating the park's elephants. The couple began to work with local villagers, hiring people to build roads and start fish farms and helping with health care and education. They also continued their study of the elephants, documenting how the social structure changed when numbers were very low and how the survivors rebuilt their lives. The Owenses also saw strong parallels between human and elephant societies. This community-based approach to conservation, coupled with firsthand reporting of fieldwork in Africa, will find many avid readers. --Nancy Bent Copyright 2006 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "This is a fascinating look at the interplay of social and wildlife upheavals in Africa in the early 1990s and a worthy follow-up to the authors' Cry of the Kalahari. They describe traveling to the "remote and ruggedly beautiful" Luangwa Valley, in northeastern Zambia, to help save the North Luangwa National Park, where the elephant population had been decimated by poachers. The pair alternate writing chapters, with Mark presenting historical background to the region's human and animal problems and describing interactions with corrupt government security officers who eventually force the Owenses from Zambia. Although Mark's writing is vivid, Delia's chapters present the book's most moving scenes, featuring the day-to-day life of the animals and the social disruption caused by poaching: she sees teenage elephants, deprived of adult guidance because their parents were killed by poachers, living "in an elephant version of Lord of the Flies." She also lovingly showcases an orphaned elephant named Gift, whose journey from baby to mother represents hope for the region, realized with the current Zambian president's progress in fighting corruption and maintaining the Owenses' work. 8 pages of color photos not seen by PW; 2 maps. (May 24) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Owens, Delia.
Owens, Mark, -- 1944-
African elephant -- Conservation -- Luangwa River Valley (Zambia and Mozambique)
African elephant -- Effect of hunting on -- Luangwa River Valley (Zambia and Mozambique)
Nature conservation -- Economic aspects -- Luangwa River Valley (Zambia and Mozambique)
Publisher Boston :Houghton Mifflin,2006
Contributors Owens, Delia.
Language English
Description xxiii, 230 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, maps ; 22 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 213-214) and index.
ISBN 0395893100
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