THE ELEPHANTS by Georges Blond


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This is an oddly constructed account -- partly straightforward, partly fictionalized -- of the author's experience with elephants in Africa and in India. Blond greatly admires these intelligent and (he thinks) beautiful nomadic animals who eat such enormous quantities of greenery that they strip the forest clean as they wander. In Central Africa, the natives hunt elephants for food, either with javelin or primitive gun, or by trapping them in a pit, or else by driving them to a chosen spot with fire: their method depends on what the witch doctor prescribes. The author abhors the natives' inhumane methods, while sympathizing with their nearly-starved condition. He reserves his respect for the peoples of India, who catch their smaller indigenous animals and train them for work. The captive elephants become devoted to their keepers and can even be used to train other elephants! In Roman times, elephants were used in war as 'tanks, and they continued to be used for war until the seventeenth century in Asia. Much fascinating and little-known material is to be found in this small book, including some fairly gruesome details.

Publisher: Macmillan