From Publishers Weekly
In this solid introduction to the world of elephants, Meredith covers all the major topics including biology, social behavior, recent scientific discoveries, ancient elephantology, the devastating ivory trade, the truth about elephant graveyards and the insistent threat of extinction. Meredith demonstrates that human involvement in elephantine affairs has been disastrous to the pachyderm: the quest for ivory had caused the extinction of all Syrian herds by 500 B.C.; many ancient cultures took elephants to war; and Romans used the animals in their blood sports. Much of the book follows the history of the European exploitation of Africa's three treasures: gold, slaves and ivory. The quantities of murdered elephants and descriptions of killing methodologies are deeply affecting. Once Meredith's history reaches modern times, the shock of population counts is astounding in comparison with the numbers of elephants that roamed free in the past. Aristotle's treatise on the animals' anatomy, behavior, diet and reproduction was the beginning of a long line of interest, but only recently has science uncovered the answers to mysteries such as how separate herds coordinate movement over many miles. Meredith's primer on elephantine matters will help turn a reader's casual interest into a fascination.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The long, sad history of the relationship between the African elephant and humans is detailed in this succinct account. Meredith, a former foreign correspondent for the London Observer
and author of numerous books on Africa, has condensed centuries of writings about elephants into an eminently readable "biography." This tragic tale begins with well-known elephant researcher Ian Douglas-Hamilton's 1987 return to his study area only to discover that most of the elephants he had studied for 20 years had been slaughtered for their ivory. The narrative then jumps back to look at how the Egyptians, Romans, and early Europeans exploited Africa's elephants, the killing of which only increased with the rise of the slave trade and the colonization of Africa. The establishment of national parks and game reserves slowed the killing. Finally, the effects of the Ivory Wars of the 1970s and 1980s end this sad chronicle. Meredith's obvious affection for his subject shines through the narrative, which is illustrated with period woodcuts. Nancy BentCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved