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In the Forest with the Elephants

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Across Asia, elephants and the forests where they live are rapidly disappearing. But in the small country of Myanmar, the magestic Asian elephant continues to thrive. There, thousands of elephants work alongside humans harvesting teak and other valuable woods using environmentally sensitive foresting methods. This inspiring environmental success story reveals how elephants and humans are working to preserve the endangered Asian elephant and its...

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Overview

Across Asia, elephants and the forests where they live are rapidly disappearing. But in the small country of Myanmar, the magestic Asian elephant continues to thrive. There, thousands of elephants work alongside humans harvesting teak and other valuable woods using environmentally sensitive foresting methods. This inspiring environmental success story reveals how elephants and humans are working to preserve the endangered Asian elephant and its habitat.

Describes how elephants are trained to help in the timber camps of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and their important contribution to the selective and sustainable harvesting of teak there.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
The men who ride the timber elephants in Myanmar are called "oozies." This is their story, and that of the elephants they care for. It is told with care and clarity, and illustrated with stunning photographs. We learn snippets of the special vocabulary the oozies teach the elephants. We witness a calving. We join in the daily lives of the working elephants in the lush tropical jungles where the partnership between people and elephants is as old as history. The book brings home the fragility of this relationship today, and throws light on a fascinating part of the world.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7In a unique relationship, "Timber" elephants and their oozies (trainer/handlers) have been working together in the forests of Myanmar for generations, snaking the logs of culled teak, padauk, and other valuable woods to jungle rivers and roads for transport to the outside world. This photo-essay, carefully researched by two experts, depicts this ecologically minded industry, describing the intensely personal relationships between the humans and elephants, the years of patient training, the care taken to maintain the animals' health and well-being, and the traditional lifestyles of the oozies and their families. Also included is specific information on climate, habitat, and logging methods. A uniting thread running through the book is a particular relationship between a majestic bull and his oozie of 20 years as they go about their daily routines, move a set of large, dangerously situated teak logs, and assist in the capture and preliminary training of several destructive wild elephants. In these days of increasingly mechanized logging operations that can cause immeasurable harm to entire ecosystems, this window into a world in which elephants are prized not for their ivory but for their strength, intelligence, and cooperation, and an industry that seriously fosters preservation may be an eye-opener to most readers. An informative and rich cultural experience.Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Horn
While Asian elephant populations are greatly diminished today, the small country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) protects both the elephants and the forests that sustain them. This well-rendered account describes the special partnership of domesticated elephants and their riders who work together, sometimes for a lifetime, harvesting teak in a carefully controlled system used for nearly one hundred and fifty years. Focusing on a particular rider and elephant, the authors personify the long years of training and nurturing young elephants and the work of mature animals in moving and hauling the heavy logs to the riverbeds where seasonal flooding will move them to their shipping point. Handsome photographs, mostly the work of Roland Smith and Michael Schmidt, effectively convey the terrain, the impressive girth of the animals, and the daily life of the timber workers. The hard work of the men and animals in the slow, measured scheme of foresting seems almost idyllic, but the authors point out risky, even treacherous conditions of terrain and climate. A strong ecological theme runs throughout the book, which documents this complex enterprise and relationship between humans and nature.
Kirkus Reviews
"La," "Yah," and "Haw" are not the gurglings of an infant but a string of commands that a timber elephant must learn in the southeastern Asian forest of Myanmar, formerly Burma. Smith and Schmidt document a day in the life of these hard-working, endangered elephants and the oozies, the men who ride and train them for logging. Readers interested in sled dogs, guide dogs, work horses and other specially trained animals will find themselves captivated with the training, care, and keep of these 7,000-pound animals that can work with logs weighing upwards of two tons. A chapter is devoted to the life of an oozie, Won Lin, following him as he bathes, saddles, works, and feeds his lifetime elephant companion, Toe Lai, the most intelligent and reliable elephant in the timber unit. Man and animal maneuver the 200-year-old teak to be harvested from a steep hillside near a treacherous cliff. Some concerns about the environment and sensitivity toward the elephants are mentioned; full-color photographs record dramatic events and minor ones in this unique partnership. (map) (Nonfiction. 7-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152012908
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/1/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 56
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 970L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.52 (w) x 10.98 (h) x 0.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Roland Smith is a former zookeeper and leading expert on red wolves as well as an author. He lives on a small farm near Portland, Oregon.

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