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Elephant is an unabashed celebration of these mysterious creatures, whose closest living relatives are the dugong and the hyrax. "They have," Alexander writes, "essential nobility, grace, serenity, sagacity, loyalty and playfulness, a simple goodness, a lack of animosity--unless provoked." While, she admits, elephants can pose particular dangers to unwary humans (she recounts tales of circus trainers of her acquaintance, some of whom fell in action), they are too often the victims in any interaction with people. The elephant's fortunes have long been declining: where only a few thousand years ago several species roamed the earth, by 1980 the combined wild populations in Africa and Asia numbered fewer than 100,000 individuals.
Alexander writes with a light hand about the curiosities of elephantine biology and social life, among them the phenomena of musth, where young males challenge their elders; flehmen, that curious teeth-baring smile exhibited by so many mammals in the course of mating; and the uncanny ability of elephants to communicate with each other over great distances. Citing published reports and drawing on extensive interviews with scientists and conservationists over the last four decades, she champions the elephants' cause in an admirable and engrossing book. --Gregory McNamee
Haven't had a chance to read but skimming through and looking at the wonderful photos, I am looking forward to starting as soon as I've finished the THREE books I'm already... Read morePublished 9 months ago by moonribber
Shana Alexander who is best known for her true crime novels - including Anyone's Daughter (Patti Hearst), Nutcracker (Francis Schreuder), The Bess Mess (Bess Myerson), and Very... Read morePublished 17 months ago by C. T. Boone