Read Elephant Destiny: Biography Of An Endangered Species In Africa by Martin Meredith Online


For thousands of years, the majestic elephant has roamed the African continent, as beloved by man as it has been preyed upon. But centuries of exploitation and ivory hunting have taken their toll: now, as wars and poachers continue to ravage its habitat, as disease and political strife deflect attention from its plight, the African elephant faces imminent extinction. WhatFor thousands of years, the majestic elephant has roamed the African continent, as beloved by man as it has been preyed upon. But centuries of exploitation and ivory hunting have taken their toll: now, as wars and poachers continue to ravage its habitat, as disease and political strife deflect attention from its plight, the African elephant faces imminent extinction. 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....

Title : Elephant Destiny: Biography Of An Endangered Species In Africa
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781586482336
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Elephant Destiny: Biography Of An Endangered Species In Africa Reviews

  • Tra-Kay
    2018-10-04 15:23

    This book really ought to have been titled, "Elephant History". Beginning before Alexander the Great and his elephant army, it covers the slaughtering of elephants, mostly in the name of ivory, from centuries ago to the current age (ending in 2001). There are many anecdotes and accounts from travelers and researchers of all kinds. However, only within the last few chapters does it really discuss the wonders of elephant life (and these are very much worth reading even if you skip the rest).For an elephant-lover, I don't know if there is a sadder book. The plethora of elephants that used to coat the entirety of Africa, numbering in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, has been reduced tragically over time. One has to wonder, reading this and knowing how wise, intelligent, and compassionate elephants are, whether human greed has known, or ever will know, any bounds. Sometimes the tales from hunters or observers were so tragic, I was forced to take a break from the book for a while. The worst part is the realization, as you near the end of the book, that this slaughter has not stopped. Even today, elephants are slain for their ivory. Sometimes they are slain by the very people "protecting" them, in the name of population control! Meredith makes a hell of a case for the African elephant.In the end, I feel Elephant Destiny was a very worthwhile read. If you have a heart at all, by the end you'll be deeply concerned over the fate of the elephants. This is Meredith's goal, and with an unbiased style, he brings both love and tragedy to their name.

  • Susan
    2018-10-10 15:19

    I recently watched a documentary about Veerappan, a notorious smuggler from India who smuggled ivory and sandalwood for over 25 years. The part that hit me hardest was how him and his associates treated majestic elephants as nothing more than mere commodities and how they killed close to a thousand of them. Anyway, I was really intrigued and wanted to learn more about them and after reading the description of this book, I picked it up immediately.Martin Meredith takes us through this incredible informative journey right from our interaction with elephants, to us using them in our battles and then exploiting and using them for our gain. Not only that, he also give in-depth information about the lives they lead, the values and principles they follow and how intelligent they're. I found this truly enriching and informative and I'll recommend this to anybody who's interested in getting to know these magnificent creatures a little more.

  • Tim Martin
    2018-10-06 10:41

    _Elephant Destiny_ by Martin Meredith is a well-written and fast-reading account of the human and natural history of the African elephant. Roughly two-thirds of the book is an account of human interaction with this species, what impact it has had on art, culture, and its uses in human warfare, its role in providing an impetus to the exploration of Africa and most importantly of all the ivory trade. The other third provides interesting information on its biology, particularly its behavior and interaction within elephant herds.Elephants were long sought after by various ancient civilizations. As early as 3000 BC the Egyptians had developed different hieroglyphs to distinguish between wild elephants and trained ones, and when elephants disappeared from Egypt they organized a number of expeditions southwards to Nubia and beyond (the land they called Punt) in large part to acquire ivory, which was used in everything from combs to gaming boards to especially goods to fill the graves of the pharaohs. In ancient Israel ivory was so revered that in 1000 BC King Solomon ordered the construction of a great ivory throne, overlaid with gold. The Greeks in the fifth century BC even developed a type of statuary known as chryselephantine in which ivory represented the flesh of a figure while gold stood in for clothing and hair. To help fill the insistent Greek demand for ivory local specialized Ethiopian elephant fighters known as Elephantomachoi arose. Two rival dynasties arising from the death of Alexander the Great both used war elephants, though while the Seleucids were able to obtain new elephants from India, the Ptolomies had to undertaken epic supply trips to get African elephants. Later the Carthaginians, particularly under Hannibal, were big advocates of war elephants, something that was at first successful against their Roman adversaries but later was countered by new Roman tactics. Though the Romans did not use African elephants in warfare they were fond of their use in entertainment, either trained elephants to be put on display or combatants to fight other animals or gladiators. The Romans also had an insatiable demand for ivory, particularly as insignia of office, to decorate temples and palaces, and in a wide range of luxury goods.Much of the human history portions of the book are accounts of the discovery of new elephant herds in different parts of Africa, of how perhaps the natives did not know the value in overseas markets of the ivory in their vast elephant herds, and the "ivory rushes" that occurred as European and Arab hunters, traders, and others flooded in to take advantage of the new resource, be it the veldt of southern Africa, the jungles of Central Africa, or the game plains of East Africa. Though well-written and one cannot discount the bravery of many of the ivory hunters (Meredith provided many contemporary, first-hand accounts of the great difficulty in hunting elephants, often on foot as horses could not survive in much of Africa), it was somewhat depressing to see such magnificent animals suffer (even some of the hunters seem to realize this, if only for a moment) as well as to see the many associated unsavory aspects of the ivory trade. One observer, a British mariner by the name of Alfred Swann, wrote after encountering a huge caravan of slaves bearing ivory "Ivory! Always ivory! What a curse the elephant has been to Africans! By himself the slave did not pay to transport but plus ivory he was a paying game!" Sometimes it seems the slave trade would not have existed had there been no ivory in the region, slaves were often used primarily to transport ivory from the interior to the coast, and even in areas where the Africans were not enslaved any ivory they possessed was outright stolen and they were often forced to fulfill quotas of ivory (and punished severely if they failed).Nevertheless the European, Arab, and Asian demand for ivory was impossible to satisfy. African ivory was prized above Indian ivory, as it was finer-grained, richer in tone, and larger. East African ivory was known as "soft" ivory and was white, opaque, gently curved, smooth, and easy to work. West African ivory was "hard" ivory and was less intensely white but glossier and more translucent. As Europe and the United States entered the industrial revolution not only did rising prosperity increase demand for such items as ivory combs, cutlery handles, and ornaments, the invention of new machinery made possible completely new mass-produced products such as piano keys and billiard balls (both required vast amounts of ivory, as each keyboard needed a pound and a half of ivory while billiard balls, in order for them to roll properly, had to be cut from the dead center of the tusk and thus a tusk could produce at most five balls). No other material responded so well to the industrial machinery of the Victorian era, as ivory could easily be cut, sawed, or etched, was quite flexible, and could be sliced into transparent paper-thin sheets; "[i]vory was in many ways the plastic of the era." Even shavings and scraps were used; boiled down to make gelatin, burned to make Indian ink, or used in fertilizer and in hair dye.Of course the entire book is not just the ivory trade. Surprisingly the first scientific African elephant dissection did not occur until the 1940s! There was so little research on the species that scientists were surprised to find that elephant herds are organized into family units of closed related cows and their offspring (first suggested by researcher Irven Buss), not lead by "herd" or "sire" bulls and that elephants use long-distance calls made with sounds well below the range of human hearing to coordinate their movements.The closing chapters of the book chronicle the ivory wars of the latter part of the 20th century and the ongoing and contentious debate over whether culling is needed in national parks and whether ivory is a sustainable resource or not.

  • Kelly
    2018-10-04 14:42

    Elephants are truly one of the most amazing creatures on the planet. They can communicate over long distances. They rejoice at reunions. They mourn their dead. They're even right or left tusked, as we're right or left handed. Yet, since the days of Egyptian pharaohs, they have been slaughtered for their ivory. Martin Meredith takes the reader back through time to when artists craved ivory for its pliability and Kings, including Alexander the Great, sought elephants to use in battles. He details the 19th century and early 20th, when ivory was in high demand to be used in everything from teapots, hair brushes, cutlery to billiard balls, furniture and, of course, piano keys. And he shows how Africa was transformed to a land of unrest and devastation, with villages and tribes destroyed, and how even the most respected European and American gentlemen traveled to Africa to hunt and turned into lawless and murderous men. It was during this time that Joseph Conrad worked on a ferry along the Congo river and witnessed horrors that would inspire him to write Heart of Darkness. And yet, despite the mass slaughter, the world was captivated by elephants. Jumbo, a large male elephant, entertained Europe before being bought by Barnum and taken to the United States. Rudyard Kipling wrote his Just So Stories and Jean de Brunhoff created Babar (which was based on a real elephant). Meredith's narration is a bit slow at the beginning but brutal and graphic in its details of how elephants and people were killed over the centuries. He also devotes several wonderful chapters to the scientists who studied elephants during the short periods of the 1960s and early 1970s when elephants actually were able to thrive in national parks, and he details the scientists amazing research and findings. Meredith ends the book by detailing the Ivory Wars of the late 1970s and 80s that corrupted Africa and many of the most notable conservation organizations. In a single decade over half a million elephants were slaughtered for ivory that inevitably financed the armed weapons used in the killing of thousands of people in Africa. And though Ivory sale is currently banned, Meredith's hope in the majestic animal's future is horribly bleak.

  • Jeffrey Williams
    2018-10-15 14:30

    Very few books cover the entirety of a subject like Martin Meredith's "Elephant Destiny." He does an admirable job covering the history of the elephant from ancient times to the late 1990s. The book really covers three important sections - history, science, public policy. The history section covers the period of the ancient world through the 1960s. Science covers the arrival of various scientists into Africa beginning in the 1960s through the 1990s and their discoveries in breeding, family, travel and communication. Public policy is relegated more towards the 1970s to 1990s and the relationship between the ivory trade (and subsequent ban) with the health of elephant herds throughout Africa. Though he makes mention in the early history section about the differences between African and Asian elephants, his research and narrative is exclusively about the African herds. This is both a strength and weakness of this book. The strength is that the subject is narrow enough to be able to cover both the breadth and depth of the material with limited amount of duplicate coverage. However, the weakness lies in the last section about the ivory trade as he offers no comparison, not even a scant one, about how the issues plaguing the African herds impact the Asian herds. One short chapter would have fixed that.Since the book came out on September 6, 2001, just five days before the famous terrorist attacks, a lot has transpired in the world of African Elephant preservation, especially with the rise of China as a dominant economic force (and major demand center for ivory) and the impact of terrorism and how groups like Al-Shabab and Boko Haram have used illegal ivory poaching as a means for raising funds for their activities. An expanded edition is sorely needed.Still, this is one of the premier books that has been written about the subject that covers a lot of ground in a coherent narrative style, which is why I give it five-stars.

  • Caitlin
    2018-09-26 10:33

    My one bone with this book is IVORY. Yes, I do understand that Elephants have been poached for their ivory for a long time. But seriously from chapter 6 to chapter 13 was about hunting elephants through out time for their ivory. It got very repetitive. After chapter 13 it was a much better read, in fact if I had to do over again I would read chapters 1-4 and 14-to the end because they gave me new insightful information about elephants: breeding, mating, family life, use in war, the most famous elephant alive (Jumbo- yes he did exist and this why we have terms like Jumbo Jet because of him) the differences between Asian and African elephants, and the fact that there are two different types of African elephants. Read this book if you are very interested in Elephants otherwise go ahead and skip it.

  • Lauren Rev
    2018-10-05 15:40

    This book provided an overview of human/African elephant history which is largely a documentation of the many ways elephants & their products, i.e. ivory, have been exploited. A very sad look at a magnificent creature juxtaposed with the greed of another. There were a few chapters on elephant biology which made you admire even more these great animals. The book touched on many interesting points, however, more detail would have been appreciated. In fact, I felt like I was reading a book written for juniors & found myself checking the library book spine more than once to confirm it was written for adults.

  • Sridhar
    2018-10-18 14:41

    Learnt a lot about elephants in history from this book, about Punt and Zanj, Sahel and Hanko, Jumbo and Babar, about the Cape of Death and the Heart of Darkness. A book written in a simple, straightforward, and journalistic style, this is well worth a read by those interested in elephants. There is more sweep to the stories than depth, but the book nevertheless has enough details on the lives of elephants, on how elephants have been exploited for ivory, and how our view of elephants has been changing due to reasons both political and cultural, and the growing knowledge of elephant lives from research.

  • Roxanne
    2018-09-24 09:35

    This is a great book about the history of elephants. They have all through history been hunted for their meat and their ivory. In Africa and in Asia they are becoming less and less and not safe from poachers. I hope we have them for a long time.

  • Kimberly
    2018-09-30 14:28

    A great book for those who love elephants or want to know more about elephants. Although the start of the book was hard to read because I love elephants and it talked a lot about how they were hunted and killed, the book does get better as it goes into more about elephants and their lives.

  • Debbie
    2018-10-07 07:16

    For a perfect review of this book read Tra-kay's summary. I have nothing orginal to add.

  • Trevor
    2018-10-03 12:41

    This is a slim popular history, but it's a good entry to the subject elephants and the ivory trade.

  • Jennifer
    2018-09-26 12:28

    Highly recommend. Loved it.

  • John Butt
    2018-10-11 11:23

    very little about elephants. maybe 40 pages. mainly about exploration and ivory. a bit ironic that someone decrying the belittling of elephants to their tusks basically does that in this book.

  • Jenifer Perry
    2018-10-20 11:43

    A really sweet book. It made me want to learn more about elephants and although it did have some facts and history, I don't think this is a definitive source on elephants.

  • Rosanne
    2018-10-20 07:17

    A lot is very difficult to read because the author describes how elephants have been massacred for their ivory (and sometimes meat) for hundreds of years.

  • Kimberly
    2018-10-08 09:15

    Save the elephants!