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Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants Paperback – September 1, 1999
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Naturalist and bioacoustics researcher Katy Payne stood near an elephant cage at a zoo and felt a strange "throb and flutter" in the air. When she later realized that the feeling was very like that caused by the lowest notes of a pipe organ, she embarked on a journey of scientific and personal discovery that took her to Africa to study how the huge mammals communicate. For years, she lived close to the elephants she loved, getting to know individuals and describing their long-distance infrasound "conversations." After her fifth such expedition, one third of the elephant population she was studying was killed in a planned cull by the Zimbabwean government. Whether or not you accept Payne's hypothesis that elephants are extraordinarily intelligent and capable of communicating with each other and with other species (including humans), you will find her descriptions of the animals compelling and compassionate. Her grief at the loss of her elephant friends is palpable, and she uses it to utmost effect in decrying not only the ivory trade, but the way in which humans have decided to live on the planet. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
"I was hearing faint sounds that might have been overtones of stronger sounds that the elephants, but not I, could hear." In a chronicle that effectively blends memoir with the drama of scientific discovery, Payne (Elephants Calling), an acoustic biologist at Cornell, describes her role in the discovery of infrasonic communication between elephants. As she does so, she recounts her 13 years' study of African elephants?observing their social and family structures and behaviors, including the digging of wells. A scientist's respect for the elephants, "my gray friends," and for the native scouts informs her work. Payne writes, "You appreciate the value of silence when you watch elephants at night.... Every animal in the herd listens when the herd is listening. To use silence so well: if I could choose for people one attribute of elephants, I'd choose this." Payne can be passionate, especially regarding the issues of poaching and the harvesting of ivory, and she is convinced that any decision about ivory harvesting must take into account both the experience of elephants themselves as well as the historic relations between indigenous peoples and wild animals. Payne believes that "[i]n such a world animals reveal things to each other, and even occasionally to people like me: their attention to us is commensurate with ours to them." This book will make a wonderful addition to the library of any animal lover or of anyone fascinated by intra- and interspecies communication. Maps and drawing by Laura Payne.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I hope this kind of illuminting research will make the world aware of the critical danger elephants face, and take steps to ensure their survival. there's the World Wildlife Fund, and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, among many. And the iWorry campaign has petitions to sign to stop the illegal poaching of elephants for their tusks.
Katy Payne is one of the elephant researchers in Amboseli Park, Kenya, that helped to discover the infrasonic rumbles of elephant communication (along with Joyce Poole and Cynthia Moss) during the late 1980's and early 1990's. She is also an eloquent writer with a passion for the elephants she studied for many years.
In Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants, she shares some facinating stories of what it's like to be in the bush with wild elephants...and one gripping story of an encounter with a lion. Her personal accounts hint of her strong intuitive gifts, where she touches on her precognitive dreams. She stops short of using direct language on some of these topics, which left me longing to hear more of what the real Katy Payne is all about. But I applaud her for bringing up spiritual topics at all. It's unusual for a scientific researcher to make personal revelations. I found it refreshing that she did.