In a mere 475 pages, Douglas Chadwick's The Fate of the Elephant manages to thoroughly cover a range of subjects almost as large as the elephants that serve as its focus. Originally assigned by National Geographic as a piece on "elephants of the world," each chapter in the book opens in a new setting, from the elephant enclosure at an American zoo, to the parts of Africa and Asia where elephants can still be found in the wild. From the workshop of Japanese ivory artisans to a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference in Switzerland, he also journeys to elephantless areas where their presence is still felt. Knowing a little about man's history with elephants, I assumed-even daresay expected-that at least some parts of the book would be dedicated to the kind of finger-pointing induction of guilt that has come to be seen as a means to inspire action on the part of the general public. Refreshingly, there is none of that to be...
While Douglas H. Chadwick's extraordinary book is titled "The Fate of the Elephant" and does an incredible job of presenting the decidedly bleak future of this magnificent animal in the face of an incredible human-induced onslaught, it does more than just examine that issue. At its heart, this book is about the fate of the "natural world"; that is, the world as it was/is before it has been shaped by human contact. The explosion in the human population is increasingly reducing and destroying the habitat of not just elephants, but other animal species in general, and Chadwick recognizes this. Chadwick's book is thoroughly researched, decidedly well-written, and a joy to read. As stated by another reviewer, as clear as it is that Chadwick's sympathies lie with the elephant itself, he shows remarkable restraint in not condemning those who make the future of the elephant so bleak. As such, the book makes the reader realize that while it is quite easy to sit in our comfortable homes and...
Incredibly detailed reporting and an easy, conversational writing style make this one of the most rewarding books I have ever read. The author writes of travelling the world, observing human and elephant interactions in dozens of different countries; part travelogue, part eco-primer, and wholly absorbing. And Chadwick makes a convincing case for keeping the African elephant on the endangered species list. This book is perhaps even more important now than when it was published _ only recently CITES (the UN group that makes the endangered species list) decided to allow some southern African countries to sell ivory again. I'd love to see the author's thoughts on these new developments. Anyone concerned with conservation or animal welfare should read this book. Personally, I found Chadwick's work so interesting and educational that after reading it I booked a trip to Africa to see these great beasts _ before the opportunity is gone forever
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