Elephants are magnificent creatures that fascinate us. They are so huge that we tend to feel virtually powerless in their presence without powerful weapons to protect us. Nevertheless these peaceful, gentle giants are vegetarians and not predators. We enjoy watching their family interactions, especially the playful, cute young ones. Their lifespan is similar to ours and their young need an extended upbringing, similar to human children. We are aware of their intelligence and long memories. We are deeply touched by their emotions, especially when they take care of their sick, and how they mourn their dead.
Many people encounter elephants in the safe space provided by conservation areas in the African wilderness. We often assume that those elephants have carefree lives and few natural enemies. Few people are aware of the many dangers and challenges elephants face from humans, their major enemy. Shrinking land available to roam freely, poaching for ivory, and culling to rid various Southern African countries of an overpopulation of elephants, are some of the causes of thousands of elephant deaths.
In this book Howard Blight combines his deep compassion for elephants, his extensive knowledge of the African savannah, and his strong concern for the well-being of a balanced biodiversity of the African continent, to develop explanations portraying the complexities of elephant life in the 21st century. He carefully interweaves his own experience and current scientific knowledge about elephants into various narratives about different individual elephants. He introduces readers to different worlds where elephants face a variety of challenges: some exciting, others life-threatening.
The stories about the elephants are entertaining, but also aim to educate. In this book elephants are elephants, nothing more and nothing less. As far as it is possible for a human writing about animals, Howard does not portray elephants with human characteristics. Instead he shows us elephant life as our best scientific knowledge judges it to be. For this reason these elephant stories will give readers a much deeper insight into the joys and sorrows, the pleasures and pains, and the frustrations and satisfactions that elephants experience. The book will assist readers to imaginatively enter a world as experienced by elephants.