JWG (jwg) wrote,

Among the Elephants

I just finished reading Among the Elephants, a book by Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton. It had been recommended by Mary while on the trip. It is an account of Iain and his wife, Oria who lived in Lake Manyara Park in Tanzania (which we visited early in the trip) on his study of elephants. He was a Zoologist and his wife a photographer. The basic project was to determine if there were too many elephants whose overpopulation would cause too much destruction of trees which would hamper other wild life's existence. He learned how to recognize individual elephants, named many of them and tracked them (about 500) in his Land Rover, in his little airplane, by radio collars, and on foot for about 4 years from 1968-1972. It was determined that the elephant population was moderately stable and was therefore not harming too much vegetation.

He observed lots about elephant sociology - how they live in small packs who then temporarily merge and divide. He saw evidence of lots of loyalty, learned which elephants could be trusted so he could get close, and saw evidence how they mourned and buried their dead. His vehicle was damaged by elephants several times with tusks thrust through the radiator; he was trampled by a rhinoceros once.

The book is fascinating reading; I strongly recommend it.

Note the detail of the elephant's tail.

This elephant below had really long tusks. I read that they keep growing and can get inconveniently long (~16 ft) if they don't get damaged in fights or at work which apparently is frequent.

A 33 second movie of an elephant in Amboseli Park.
Tags: africa2008

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