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African Elephants: A Celebration of Majesty
     

African Elephants: A Celebration of Majesty

by Daryl Balfour
 

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An unforgettable portrait of African elephants, featuring marvelous pictures by world-reowned nature photographers and an informative text based on eyewitness observations.

The African elephant is undoubtedly the most magnificent and awe-inspiring land animal on earth, embodying the very essence and wonder of the wilderness. In this celebration of these majestic

Overview

An unforgettable portrait of African elephants, featuring marvelous pictures by world-reowned nature photographers and an informative text based on eyewitness observations.

The African elephant is undoubtedly the most magnificent and awe-inspiring land animal on earth, embodying the very essence and wonder of the wilderness. In this celebration of these majestic creatures, wildlife photographers Daryl and Sharna Balfour present a collection of 200 striking images taken on a four-year quest across the African continent. They embarked on this journey to record and portray elephants in unspoiled places as never before.

The resulting photographs provide an unforgettable and insightful portrait of elephants. They reveal the fascinating lives of African elephants, their individual behavior, and intriguing social relationships, as well as the enormous influence they exert on their diverse habitats. While taking these pictures Daryl Balfour experienced a near-fatal encounter with Tshokwane, one of Kruger National Park's giant tuskers, and he describes the gripping story of this adventure, which, despite his personal ordeal, did not diminish his admiration and feelings of kinship for elephants. The narrative and captions offer more details and lore about the private lives of these singular animals.

During the Balfours' odyssey across Africa photographing elephants, they become acutely aware of the intense debate concerning the elephant's survival and the complex issues relating to the continuous struggle between man, wildlife, and the environment. The forewords included in this book represent a range of current views on conservation and the future of elephants. Among thecontributors are Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, one of the foremost authorities on the African elephant and Daphne Sheldrick, who has raised orphaned baby elephants in Kenya and developed an astonishing understanding of them.

The photographers hope that this memorable tribute to the African elephant will lead to a better understanding of this remarkable animal and of the necessity for conservation measures to assure their survival into the next century and beyond.

Other Details: 250 full-color illustrations 168 pages 10 1/4 x 10 1/4" Published 1998

slide to extinction was slowed, but the 1997 decision to reopen limited trade puts them under threat once again.

Many people say that half a million elephants is enough--too many even; that elephants living outside parks and reserves have no place in today's world. Indeed, for those who have to live with them under uncontrolled conditions, elephants are nothing more, or less, than a serious nuisance and a real threat to life, limb, and property. To many rural Africans living in close proximity to wildlife areas, the only good elephant is a dead one, and it's hard to argue with such logic when one small herd of elephants can devastate a year's crops--and a family's livelihood--in a night, destroy a homestead, and (as they can and frequently do) cripple, main, or kill. While the average Westerner, living in any big city and unlikely ever to experience such life-and-death conflicts with animals, may be aghast at such sentiments, it is not easy to counter them, fueled as they are by the practicalities of a hard life, under difficult conditions on a harsh continent.

As the months lengthened into years, what started for us as a simple project grew into a labor of love as curious affection became committed passion. We feel greatly privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to share in the lives of so many of Africa's remaining elephants, and trust we can encourage more people to visit them in the reserves where they live. The pleasure of lying at night in a tent in the African wilderness, listening to the rumbling of wild elephants, is a simple reminder of man's own valuable but ever-diminishing freedom. Elephants, sensitive and intelligent creatures, are more than mere numbers, and if they need to be managed this should be done with a modicum of sensitivity and understanding--and without resort to bloody carnage associated with culling.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
Over 200 photographs chronicle the four-year trek of the authors across Africa, following and living with this magnificent beast. The Balfours' purpose is to share the delight they take in these animals as well as to present the issues of conservation of the elephant and its habitat. Forewords written by three experts appear: Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, a researcher of elephant populations; Dr. John Hanks, chief executive for the WWF South Africa; and Daphne Sheldrick, an author who hand-raises orphaned baby elephants for reintroduction to the wild. The chapter "About Elephants" includes physiology, origins, ivory trade, culling (selective killing of surplus animals), the baby trade, and the changing landscape. Succeeding chapters are presented as areas of Africa, i.e., the various reserves and national parks, with a small map of the continent indicating that particular area with a brief description, followed by a multitude of stunning photographs accompanied by lengthy captions. With a particularly outstanding photo of an elephant's mouth, kids also learn that this animal will go through six sets of molars in his lifetime, ultimately starving to death after the last set wears out. The details and colors of the photos are positively beautiful. Elephant hues of charcoal, tan, and sienna against the backdrop of the African sky will enthrall even the casual page turner.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781868257935
Publisher:
BPR Publishers
Publication date:
12/28/1997
Pages:
168
Product dimensions:
10.63(w) x 12.20(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

Authors' Preface

The challenge that lies ahead is to manage the earth's remaining resources for the future benefit of not only all mankind, but animal--and elephant--kind too. To preserve the land in all its diversity for the inhabitants of Planet Earth we will have to embark upon some far-sighted management of our own species, for undoubtedly man's own unchecked population growth presents the greatest threat to the future survival of all earth's species. Africa--and the world--will surely be a poorer place if these magnificent behemoths can no longer tread their ancient footpaths.

This book represents not only a personal record of a four-year odyssey spent following and living with elephants in some of the more remote areas of Africa, but also a pictorial tribute to a magnificent creature that we feel embodies the very essence of wilderness. African Elephants--A Celebration of Majesty reflects some of our experiences and highlights some of the issues facing elephants and those entrusted with their conservation today. We are not scientists, so we have avoided trying to present a comprehensive biological or behavioral treatise. Rather we have shared our personal visions and attempted to distill almost four years of photographic experiences across Africa into a book that we hope will inspire the same feelings of love, wonder, awe, and respect we came to feel for our subjects.

When we started this undertaking we envisaged it as a year-long project. We intended spending no more than several months in South Africa's Kruger National Park photographing its legendary big tuskers, gathering a portfolio to supplement our existing elephant material from parks and places already visited inNamibia and Botswana. The book was intended to reflect a southern African conservation success story as opposed to the disastrous tales we were hearing about poaching and the decimation of elephant herds further north. But, as our time among the elephants lengthened and we learned more about our subjects and matters affecting their lives, we realized that we needed to broaden our own horizons, as well as the scope of our research and photography. First we traveled to Zimbabwe, then spent much more time in both Botswana and Namibia. We drove north, through Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania to Kenya, where our eyes were opened beyond our wildest expectations. Despite all that we had heard and been told, here we found some of the happiest elephants in Africa, and enjoyed some of our most memorable times among them. In Amboseli National Park in Kenya, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, a baby elephant, only a few weeks old, leaned up against our vehicle and slept peacefully while its unconcerned mother ate a trunk's length away.

Our experience with Kenya's elephants, which meet with minimal interference from man, was humbling and soul-cleansing, and made us search deep in our hearts and minds to begin a reassessment of policies and principles that we'd (almost) come to accept.

Isolated through the apartheid years at the southern tip of the continent, perhaps South Africa's "successes" in managing its elephant population needed reexamination. In this computerized, superefficient world of ours, perhaps we'd be well advised not to let slip a few old-fashioned concepts like morality and ethics in our dealings with and about our fellow inhabitants of this planet.

At the turn of this century there were an estimated 10 million elephants in Africa. In 1979 Kenya-based biologist and elephant researcher Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, in the first really extensive continental census of elephant populations conducted for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), calculated that there were a total of 1.43 million elephants left on the continent. Ten years later that figure had been slashed by more than half and numbers were down to about 609,000, decimated by the effects of illegal ivory hunting and the insidious loss of elephant range. Thanks to the 1989 decision banning the international trade in elephant products, the slide to extinction was slowed, but the 1997 decision to reopen limited trade puts them under threat once again.

Many people say that half a million elephants is enough--too many even; that elephants living outside parks and reserves have no place in today's world. Indeed, for those who have to live with them under uncontrolled conditions, elephants are nothing more, or less, than a serious nuisance and a real threat to life, limb, and property. To many rural Africans living in close proximity to wildlife areas, the only good elephant is a dead one, and it's hard to argue with such logic when one small herd of elephants can devastate a year's crops--and a family's livelihood--in a night, destroy a homestead, and (as they can and frequently do) cripple, main, or kill. While the average Westerner, living in any big city and unlikely ever to experience such life-and-death conflicts with animals, may be aghast at such sentiments, it is not easy to counter them, fueled as they are by the practicalities of a hard life, under difficult conditions on a harsh continent.

As the months lengthened into years, what started for us as a simple project grew into a labor of love as curious affection became committed passion. We feel greatly privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to share in the lives of so many of Africa's remaining elephants, and trust we can encourage more people to visit them in the reserves where they live. The pleasure of lying at night in a tent in the African wilderness, listening to the rumbling of wild elephants, is a simple reminder of man's own valuable but ever-diminishing freedom. Elephants, sensitive and intelligent creatures, are more than mere numbers, and if they need to be managed this should be done with a modicum of sensitivity and understanding--and without resort to bloody carnage associated with culling.

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