Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SANDS OF SILENCE by Peter Hathaway Capstick

SANDS OF SILENCE

On Safari in Namibia

By Peter Hathaway Capstick

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-06459-4
Publisher: St. Martin's

 Another vintage safari adventure from Capstick (Death in a Lonely Land, 1990, etc.)--for those who yearn for the simpler days of life in the pristine bush, trophies on the wall, and good old male-bonding. In the spring of 1989, with cameramen--including noted African-wildlife photographer M. Philip Kahl--along for the record, Capstick went to Namibia to hunt elephant to round out his video series on hunting. There, he joined a professional safari outfit and headed for Bushmanland, an arid area sparsely settled by the last remnants of Bushmen tribes. These Bushmen, with independence for Namibia imminent, were rapidly losing their old customs as rival political parties bought their votes with T-shirts and whiskey. Caught between ``a hunting-and-gathering culture and the modern world,'' their future is not promising--the ease of civilization is too tempting, and they have not yet taken to agriculture. On their present journey, as they pursue the perfect elephant, Capstick and his companions have the obligatory encounters with dangerous wild animals and snakes; spend many futile hours in the hot sun watching animals; and, as expected, are finally rewarded with an old tusker worthy of trophydom. Along the way, the author throws in a lot of hunting lore, opinions on game- management, the history of Bushmen, and the role of conservation in the current elephant crisis. For Capstick, the ideal solution would be no ``appreciable'' poaching; some cropping by responsible governments; education of rural Africans on the worth of elephants as ``value on the ground''; and carefully controlled hunting by licensed sportsmen, whose expenditures would fund these other efforts. Chatty, discursive, and splendidly forthright in his opinions, Capstick writes of a way of life fast disappearing but still immensely attractive, especially to those dreamers tethered by domestic reality. (Color photographs--not seen.)