THE EYE OF THE ELEPHANT: Life and Death in an African Wilderness by Mark & Delia Owens Owens

THE EYE OF THE ELEPHANT: Life and Death in an African Wilderness

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From the couple who publicized the plight of the wildebeest in the Kalahari (Cry of the Kalahari, 1984)--a further search for a wilderness paradise in Africa, pitting the energetic duo against elephant poachers in northern Zambia. When forced by Botswana authorities to leave the Kalahari, the Owenses, still intent on finding an unspoiled Eden--i.e., territory with no other people in sight--settle upon a remote corner of Zambia, the North Luangwa National Park, for their next research project. Here, they hope to continue their study of lions, but they soon realize that the park's elephants are being decimated by poachers. War is declared and, once the couple have established their camp in the valley--a task complicated by the local river's tendency to flood--they get to work. Mark, obsessed with saving the elephants and nabbing the poachers, flies endless nocturnal combat-style missions over the park, lobbing cherry bombs at poachers, and organizes on-the-ground sorties. The poachers retaliate, and it seems as if the local park rangers and villagers are in cahoots with the villains. By now, the authors are beginning to realize that Africans may also be in need of help, and that the locals are poaching out of economic necessity; so with donated funds, they encourage small businesses in the villages; visit schools to educate the young about their rich animal heritage; and pay bounty for captured poachers. The elephants slowly begin to return; the villagers seem to be developing new sources of income despite Zambia's bankrupt economy and the prevalence of AIDS; and Mark and Delia stay on to save the park. Another seemingly clear-cut victory for the tireless defenders of wildlife, who tell a lively tale tinged with that smugness typical of Western conservationists who expect the impossible of poor Africa.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin