Elephant Destiny: Biography Of An Endangered Species In Africa
What will become of these magnificent beasts? As the elephant's future looms ever darker, Martin Meredith's concise and richly illustrated biography traces the elephant's history from the first ivory expeditions of the Egyptian pharaohs 2500 years ago to today, exploring along the way the indelible imprint the African elephant has made in art, literature, culture, and society. He shares recent extraordinary discoveries about the elephant's sophisticated family and community structure and reveals the remarkable ways in which elephants show compassion and loyalty to each other.
Elegant, illuminating, and urgent, Elephant Destiny offers a beautiful and important tribute to one of earth's most magisterial creatures at the very moment it threatens to vanish from being.
considerable traffic in ivory exported to India. He described the dangers of elephant hunting and recorded an incident in which two hunters had tracked down elephants they had wounded: ‘One of these elephants had gone into a river, and with its trunk was throwing water over the other; this was lying on the bank, and in con- sequence the huntsman concluded it was dead. Approaching now somewhat nearer than was prudent, to the living one in the water, this elephant seized one of the two hunters
was so heavily ornamented in ivory that it was known as the ivory house. Indeed, in the Hebrew kingdom, ivory became synonymous with luxury and decadence, prompting the Old Testament prophet, Amos, to warn, ‘The houses of ivory shall perish.’ The Greeks, in the fifth century bc, developed a similar passion for ivory. They took particular delight in a type of statuary known as chryselephantine in which ivory represented the flesh of a figure while gold was used for robes and hair. Using ivory
twentieth century, Babar, also had African origins. Babar made his first appearance as an orphaned elephant adopted by a kind old lady in an illustrated book by the painter Jean de Brunhoff, published in Paris in 1931. He had started life the previous summer in tales told by de Brunhoff’s wife, Cécile, to their children, simply intended to send them to sleep. The de Brunhoffs had never been to Africa, but that summer they had listened to elephant stories brought back to Paris by an adventurous
meaning ‘intoxicated’. Centuries ago, musth was identified as a common feature in the sexual cycle of Asian elephants, but it was thought not to occur in African elephants. Even in the 1960s, pioneers in the reproductive biology of African elephants such as Irven Buss and Richard Laws maintained it did not exist. In 1976, however, Joyce Poole, then a nineteen-year-old undergraduate working in Amboseli with Cynthia Moss on a study of bull elephants, noticed on separate occasions a number of
cases five tons to their stockpiles; Zimbabwe accumulates about ten tons each year. As pressure grows for a change to the rules, the ban, in its present form, is unlikely to remain in place. The one factor that has moved decisively in the elephant’s favour in recent years is the work of field biologists. Their discoveries have revealed an ever more remarkable and complex animal. While elephants have always been held in high esteem since early civilisation, the new dimensions of elephant life