"Vividly written...Their story is thrilling—the kind of tale that wild-animal lovers won't easily forget."—People
In this riveting real-life adventure, Mark and Delia Owens tell the dramatic story of their last years in Africa, fighting to save elephants, villagers, and -- in the end -- themselves. The award-winning zoologists and pioneering conservationists describe their work in the remote and ruggedly beautiful Luangwa Valley, in northeastern Zambia. There they studied the mysteries of the elephant population’s recovery after poaching, discovering remarkable similarities between humans and elephants. A young elephant named Gift provided the clue to help them crack the animals’ secret of survival. A stirring portrait of life in Africa, Secrets of the Savanna is a remarkable record of the Owenses's unique passions.
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.
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