Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: The Eye of the Elephant

By Lynn Willoughby

The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness ~   Delia and Mark Owens

This is a very readable true adventure. The Owens’s story is dramatic, candid, funny and heart breaking, but full of the kind of information that brings true enlightenment  I loved it.

After the Owens’s had been expelled from Botswana – for bringing the facts of the extent of the scale of elephant poaching to the world, they move to the North Luangwa Valley in Zambia.  They are surrounded by hippos and crocodiles, lions and elephants.  But idyllic as this sounds for them to do their research, it quickly becomes very  dangerous.  And the danger is not from the animals they are studying!  It is from the poachers who are slaughtering thousands of elephants a year – for their tusks, tails, feet and skins. The illegal “bush meat” they dry and sell locally as an added bonus.

Corruption is rampant at every level – including the park rangers, the justice system, the police, the government department overseeing the park.  However, when your family is starving, Mark and Delia understand that you do what you need to do to feed them, including working for the poachers in exchange for meat.

The Owens’s became a “one woman, one man economic development team, helping villagers start sewing and wood working shops, fish farms and grain mills, all while trying to convince them that in the long run wildlife could be worth more to them alive than dead.”

From 1963 to 1989 poachers shot 86% of the elephants in Africa!  This is truly grim and especially when you see all the photos of Mark sitting patiently watching a lioness 10 feet away, or Delia eye to eye with the elephant who loved to eat the marula fruit in their camp.  These animals are precious and need our help.

  • Cry of the Kalahari
  • Secrets of the Savanna

…………and other works of their studies

Who Knew?

The price of raw ivory was $936 per pound.  In 1985 when an international ban was put on the ivory trade, the price fell to $1.36 per pound.

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