Monday, June 11, 2012

Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick

This is very much a biography and should not be assigned Dewey 639 where it will be lost.

For a number of years, Bonnie has been a fan and avid supporter of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Orphan's Nursery in Nairobi National Park. Every month she receives email reports from Dame Daphne Sheldrick about the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned elephants. Until recently, there were notes and pictures of Zarura, the elephant that Bonnie sponsors, but he has chosen to leave the sanctuary and live wild. Bonnie passes the reports to me, so I also learn about dramatic rescues, wonderful keepers, mud baths, soccer games, and special friendships among dozens of orphan elephants. We are not the only fans.

Thanks to Elephant Diaries on Animal Planet, a couple of stories on CBS's 60 Minutes, and the 3-D IMAX film Born to Be Wild, many people now follow and contribute to the trust. Some of them even travel to Kenya to visit the nursery and witness the daily feedings and baths of the orphans. So we are the target audience for Dame Daphne Sheldrick's new autobiography Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story, in which she recounts a lifetime of caring for orphaned animals. Even as a girl on a farm in the Kenyan highlands, she befriended numerous small mammals and birds that had been orphaned or injured. Her stories about the creatures are always entertaining and sometimes sad, as many do fail to thrive or become the prey of other creatures.

Much of Love, Life, and Elephants is a romance, as the author tells about her life with her second husband David Sheldrick, the warden of Tsavo National Wildlife Park for over twenty years. It was David who introduced her to fostering large mammals, including elephants and rhinoceros. Together the Sheldricks worked to expand Kenya's parks, protect the animals from poaching and habitat loss, and develop ecological tourism at a time when Kenya was given its independence and was struggling with political corruption. Sheldrick is a congenial writer with a wealth of stories and passionate about her cause. Her book should be popular with many readers.

Sheldrick, Dame Daphne. Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780374104573.

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