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The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness Paperback – October 29, 1993


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The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness + Secrets of the Savanna: Twenty-three Years in the African Wilderness Unraveling the Mysteries of Elephants and People + Cry of the Kalahari
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Each year from 1973 to 1985, an estimated 1000 elephants were slaughtered in Zambia's Luangwa Valley for their ivory tusks, skin, tails and feet; in 1991, only 12 were killed in this fashion. No little credit for saving the elephants is due to the Owenses (Cry of the Kalahari), biologists who set out to research animal behavior but stayed to persuade villagers that rather than shooting elephants, they could gain more in food, jobs and money by letting the animals live and attracting tourists to see them. The Owenses not only taught the natives crafts and trades, but also organized international support to secure a temporary ban on the sale of elephant body parts. Conscious of the dangers of substituting one evil for another, the Owenses lobby for walking safaris rather than the intrusive, destructive motorized tours popular elsewhere in Africa. Their personal story is an adventure filled with the color and scent of wild Africa, with recreations of their arduous treks through wilderness, with escapes from attempts on their lives by disgruntled Africans, and with engrossing descriptions of the lives and habits of animals. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

MARK and DELIA OWENS are the authors of Cry of the Kalahari, an international bestseller and winner of the Burroughs Medal, and The Eye of the Elephant.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (October 29, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395680905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395680902
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
86%
4 star
9%
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5%
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See all 22 customer reviews
This is one of the most fascinating books that I have ever read.
Arthur E. Silverman
The elephants in the Luanga Valley are very fortunate to have had Mark and Delia watch over them and be their heroes.
Sue
Their love for nature made these poetic descriptions incredibly moving.
K. Wilkins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
A second story of the Owens's exceptional experiences in the wildlife habitats of Africa.(The first book is Cry of the Kalahari.) The Eye of the Elephant is a warm and personal story of saving the endangered elephants of Zambia. The reader becomes as anxious for the survival of the Owens's as for the survival of the elephants, and the people of Africa. Eye opening to the problems encountered in doing something so nobel and obviously necessary.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sue on August 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Eye of the Elephant is a wonderful, adventurous journey into the heart and soul of Africa seen through Mark and Delia's eyes. From the very first page you are caught up in their heroic quests to protect the animals they are there to observe. In spite of the unbelievable odds against them, they persevered and put the safety and security of the highly endangered animals FIRST. The elephants in the Luanga Valley are very fortunate to have had Mark and Delia watch over them and be their heroes. I have loved Africa and the African elephant my entire life and I am so grateful for these two selfless, dedicated people who have become the protectors of our most precious wildlife. This is one of my most treasured African stories.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on May 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Wildlife researchers and conservationists Delia and Mark Owens have spent much of their lives since 1974 in the African bush, first in the Kalahari Desert from which came their best seller "Cry of the Kalahari" and then in the North Luangwa Valley in Zambia, the setting of this 1992 book.

The Owens' passion leads them to risk their lives routinely. In searching for a suitable camp in North Luangwa they set out in an ancient truck with no radio and inadequate gear. After a grueling trek that would have sent sane mortals packing for home they separate so Mark can fly his Cessna to a site that "would make Cessna's insurance company shudder" while Delia makes the two-day trip alone with the old truck and a trailer over trackless hilly, bushy, gully-filled flood-plain terrain. Tracking animals they are constantly walking smack into a startled lion or buffalo or cornered elephant.

But the real danger comes from people. "The Eye of the Elephant," while filled with wildlife anecdotes and tidbits of information about elephants and lions, is really about the poaching war the Owens conducted on behalf of the besieged North Luangwa elephants.

The poachers are villagers, many armed with AK47s, backed by the local government and assisted by the corrupt and underequipped local game guards. The Owens' weapons are education, cottage industry projects financed by the Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation and the Cessna.

The battle starts genially with children exclaiming over magazine pictures and their parents joining sewing circles and carpentry workshops.
Read more ›
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
You will immediately be drawn into their story! I was so involved reading this book that I missed my train station stop...you'll feel like you're there with them!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By talkaboutquality VINE VOICE on January 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
Mark and Delia Owens, trained in biology and zoology, and self-made wildlife conservationists, are expelled from Botswana for counting the animals too well. Poaching is big business and animal population data is the accusing evidence. But The Eye of the Elephant is no dry documentary. Instead, it is a movie-like personal account by a hardy, stubborn, enduring couple in love with each other and persistent in their goal to save wildlife somewhere in Africa. Expelled from the Kalahari, they choose the Luangwa Valley region of Zambia, to fight elephant poaching. Mark flies a bush plane and Delia drives a jeep through the brush. They both enjoy living very simply, in the middle of nature, unafraid of the wild animals. At the same time, their fearlessness, which goes way beyond foolhardiness, sees them confronting poachers who have automatic rifles, while they try to get the local park rangers equipped and willing to do their almost impossible job. The Owenses also run community programs to teach children and adults that ecotourism is better for them than poaching. I learn that poachers aren't all bad -- they may simply be starving and living off the only corrupt economy that their government, with the encouragement of well-meaning but thoughtless Western governments, provides. Money, corruption, deception, weapons -- there are many points in this true story where I wonder how the Owenses will survive. Not the dangers from animals, but as with the animals, the dangers from people. Wildlife conservation is very serious business; see it through The Eye of the Elephant.
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Format: Paperback
As the subtitle says, this was truly "An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness." This story of Mark and Delia Owens' efforts to save the elephants and other wildlife in a Zambian natural park was without a dull moment. In the first few chapters, Mark had gotten lost in the dessert and both authors had encountered a cobra and a pride of lions. The book continues with awe-inspiring encounters with wildlife and more frightening encounters with poachers.

Despite the action-packed nature of the book, both authors found time to describe the natural beauty and majestic animals surrounding them. Their love for nature made these poetic descriptions incredibly moving. Each chapter in the book was written by either Mark or Delia and I suspect their editor deserves a ton of credit because their distinct personalities come through without ever disrupting the flow of their narrative.

Even though the point of a book like this is to raise awareness of a problem, I really appreciated that they wrote the book at a point where most parts of the story have a happy ending. While it's definitely important to alert people to the plight of endangered animals, you get too close to specific animals they describe to deal well with an unhappy ending. The struggle they face with corrupt officials is also incredibly frustrating, so it was nice to see that things were moving in the right direction at the end of the book.
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