Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Secrets of the Savanna

Secrets of the Savanna: Twenty-three Years in the Africa Wilderness Unraveling the Mysteries of Elephants and People
by Mark and Delia Owens [599.674 Owe]

This book describes the culmination of their twenty-three year odyssey in Africa. Mark and Delia's fascination with the Dark Continent started when they were graduate students at the University of Georgia. One evening they attended a lecture about Africa's vanishing wildlife. The lecture inspired them to sell all of their possessions for $6000 and move to Africa to help save the wildlife. They camped in the Kalahari Desert for seven years while they studied the habits of black-maned lions and brown hyenas. After seven in Botswana they moved to the North Luangwa National Park in Zambia where they worked to stop elephant poaching.. In the course of their work the Owens found themselves in a unique position. They were able to document the impact that longtime poaching had on elephant herds. They saw how the social structure was affected and what became of elephants that were left to make their way into adulthood without the benefit of the herd. It's a fascinating look at elephant society and the impact of poaching on human society. An equal portion of the book looks at the Owens' work to persuade former poachers to develop other economic opportunities in their villages and wean themselves off of poaching as a source of income. They established their own foundation to fund economic opportunities for the villages. They loaned the villagers money to start cottage industries. Some of the women became seamstresses when the Owens loaned them money to sewing machines. The Owens provided training for women who wanted to become midwives. Some of the men became millers, others became beekeepers. The Owens hired other men and women to help them with research and to run their project. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try My Heart is Africa by Scott Griffin, or A Wild Life by Dick Pitman.] -- recommended by Donna G. - Virtual Services Department

[ official Secrets of the Savanna page on the official Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation web site ]

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