Martin Meredith has spent much of his life writing about Africa: first as a foreign correspondent for the London Observer and Sunday Times, then as a research fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford, and now as an independent author and commentator.
When Meredith learned that well-known and highly respected field researchers such as Cynthia Moss (Elephant Memories) and Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton (Among the Elephants) had recorded actual family histories of elephants, he was intrigued. A British journalist who has been writing about Africa for decades (e.g., Mugabe: Power and Plunder in Zimbabwe), he was no longer satisfied knowing elephants as a species-he wanted to know them as individuals and family units. In preparing this book, he traveled extensively throughout the continent, drawing on the works of the scientists he admired. Elephant Destiny is his attempt to broaden our understanding of elephants and demonstrate the survival challenges they face. As he points out, unless something is done soon, it is very likely that elephants will disappear from the wild in the near future. Through exceptionally readable text, as well as line drawings and color photographs, Meredith takes the reader on a journey from humanity's first contact with elephants to today's poaching and the illegal trade in ivory. Meredith illustrates how the effects of colonialism in Africa-poverty, wars, and disease-have all but destroyed the environment elephants need to survive. First published in Britain, his book is highly recommended for most natural history collections because of the depth of the author's research and experience.-Edell M. Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"Will help turn a reader's casual interest into a fascination."
In this solid introduction to the world of elephants, Meredith covers all the major topics including biology, social behavior, recent scientific discoveries, ancient elephantology, the devastating ivory trade, the truth about elephant graveyards and the insistent threat of extinction. Meredith demonstrates that human involvement in elephantine affairs has been disastrous to the pachyderm: the quest for ivory had caused the extinction of all Syrian herds by 500 B.C.; many ancient cultures took elephants to war; and Romans used the animals in their blood sports. Much of the book follows the history of the European exploitation of Africa's three treasures: gold, slaves and ivory. The quantities of murdered elephants and descriptions of killing methodologies are deeply affecting. Once Meredith's history reaches modern times, the shock of population counts is astounding in comparison with the numbers of elephants that roamed free in the past. Aristotle's treatise on the animals' anatomy, behavior, diet and reproduction was the beginning of a long line of interest, but only recently has science uncovered the answers to mysteries such as how separate herds coordinate movement over many miles. Meredith's primer on elephantine matters will help turn a reader's casual interest into a fascination. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.