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Cry of the Kalahari

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  4,476 ratings  ·  316 reviews
This is the story of the Owens' travel and life in the Kalahari Desert. Here they met and studied unique animals and were confronted with danger from drought, fire, storms, and the animals they loved. This best-selling book is for both travelers and animal lovers. ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Mariner Books (first published 1984)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  4,476 ratings  ·  316 reviews

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Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh, to be Mark and Delia and lie under the clear sky with only lions for company. That is the stuff of dreams for an animal lover. I feel privileged to have been taken by the authors to Botswana Kalahari and given a glimpse of the rare world out there, so inaccessible to most of us. So for that, thank you, Mark & Delia!

Mark and Delia (M&D henceforth) were students in the 70s US trying to think of a subject for their Ph.D thesis. Finally, they decided to go to Botswana on a pure whim. They sold o
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

Hey, y'all. This is not a review --- yet. I just wanted to get your attention to tell you that I will be without internet access for awhile, beginning Thursday evening, November 12. I don't know how long it will be before I'm back online. When I come back, I will post of review of this book.
Ariel Sledge
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emotional and riveting, Cry of The Kalahari is one of the most inspirational books I've encountered in my reading history. The seven year journey of Mark an Delia Owens not only represents them as zoologists and researchers, but shows their compassion and love towards the environment and the species inhabiting our world. It displays the interworking relationships between animal and man, a questioning subject that will forever be a mystery, and wedges its way into the world of beasts, trying to g ...more
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Cry of the Kalahari

One of the best books on “white man in Africa”. I enjoyed it especially because a little before they began their research in Botswana, my wife and I had spent 2 years in neighboring Zambia. I taught English at Nkumbi International College, which was really a secondary school for refugee freedom fighters. The students ranged in ages from 18 or so to their 40s. My wife worked in administration.

We were newlyweds then like Mark and Delia, who were much more remote from villages,
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
While the writing was good, tells the story of the Owenses first seven years in Africa, and conveys the passion the couple feels toward preserving wildlife there, I could not fully appreciate this book. Last year this article was published in the New Yorker: and it is a really damning portrait of the Owenses presence in Africa. Granted, the Kalahari book tells of their time in Botswana (1974-1981), and the article focuses on their time in Zambia (ca. 1986 ...more
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment
Although it's an old book (1980s), I would recommend it to absolutely everyone. Mark and Delia Owens had the adventure of a lifetime, and brought world focus to the problems of African animals. I put it at exactly the same level of importance and influence as Silent Spring. And it's a much more interesting read: the Owenses had so many brushes with death, the book is like an adventure page-turner as well as a clarion call for conservation.

The Owenses have been busy since leaving the Kalahari in
Tanja Nayak
May 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was an instant classic about the wilds of Africa in my humble opinion. It is the true story of Mark and Delia Owens who explored the foreboding Kalahari desert and studied the wildlife there. It is a story about how they survived and how the wildlife is adapted to live in these harsh conditions too. A must read for anyone interested in wildlife and conservation.
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In Cry of the Kalahari, Mark and Delia Owens recount seven years of studying the Botswana wildlife, particularly lions and brown hyenas.

I'm glad they wrote about the experience in such detail, as it wasn't just the bliss of watching the lions sunbathing. The hardships of their living were unbelievable. Just securing the funding was a painstaking process, and then there was the day-to-day hard work and research to be done. These two survived so much, I'm honestly surprised they lived to tell the
Kate Z
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: will-s-books
This book is a happy thing for me. I first read this book 20+ years ago and loved it. I went on to read their "Elephant book" as well. Will (now 13) is really into non-fiction books and I went on something of a "quest" to figure out the name of the book so he could read it. I couldn't remember the name or title or authors or anything and I was doing random Google searches for "couple lives with lions in Kalahari desert" and things like that. No luck.

Enter: Where The Crawdads Sing (yes, I loved
Sep 29, 2008 rated it liked it
The descriptions of the untouched wildlife in the Kalahari desert are astounding. The authors, however, are dumbasses. What sort of crazy people move to the Kalahari desert, hundreds of miles from the nearest human settlement, without any equipment or experience to speak of? It is truly miraculous that they didn't die out there -- especially after reading about some of the experiences they had along the way. Nonetheless it's a good read and gave me new appreciation for both the wildlife of Afric ...more
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: naturalists, animal lovers, young people, animal researchers, conservationists
(See our Further Reading section at the bottom of the review for more books like this!)

Cry of the Kalahari by wildlife researchers Mark James Owens and Cordelia Dykes Owens (Delia Owens) goes into great detail about animal behavior and living in the wilderness in a way that will capture the imaginations of casual readers and veteran wildlife watchers alike. It encompasses in vivid detail the wilderness of Deception Valley, their home for seven years, as well as the small rural town of Maun,
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
An inspiring read by a young couple who devoted seven years to the study of lions and hyenas in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. Their bravery, fearlessness, and tenacity in facing everything that nature (and man) throws at them is admirable and their contribution to the understanding of those species invaluable to their preservation. Side note: Delia Owens is also author of a novel I read recently and thoroughly enjoyed, “Where the Crawdads Sing.”
Oct 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Meet Sassy, Spooky, Gypsy, Spicy, Cherry& Blue...lions w stripper names 👏 Nice. I liked these two studying elephants much better though ....2 or 3 stars ty.
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book and the complete sacrifice of the authors to research and live around the beautiful wildlife in Africa! Bringing this information to lite is so important to conservation. We should be good stewards of the world we live in and take care of the creatures we live with here.
Great stories. Great information. Must have been Heartbreaking for the authors to sit back and not help the animals - I don't know how they didn't feed or give water to them when needed!
Jordanna Bilyeu
On January 4, 1974 Mark and Delia Owens boarded a plane with two backpacks, two sleeping bags, one pup tent, a small cooking kit, a camera, one change of clothes each, and $6ooo. These two left behind everything they had ever known to explore their passion together in wild Africa. This book is not a play by play of their scientific research, but a personal story of their feelings, experiences, and everyday life in Deception Valley of the Kalahari Desert.
These two warm hearts take you deep into
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books, owned
I have now read all three of the Owens' memoirs of their time in Africa, and although I read this - their first adventure - last, I liked it the best. Each of the couple wrote distinct chapters of their experiences in the Kalahari, from the early days when they had no funding (other than their own meager savings) and were severely limited in their exploration and tracking, to the later years when they received grants and support and expanded their geographic and species study. Their intimate (in ...more
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was born and raised in Botswana, and have visited many of the places described in this book. I have a great love for the wild, open plains of the great Kalahari that are described so beautifully in this book, and it is with a heavy heart that I can relate to many of the conservation ideals prescribed by the authors in the 70's because today, in 2019 the Kalahari is slowly fading away. The vast number of wildebeest described in the book are no more; the fences that were said to interfere with m ...more
Sue Chaplin
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I think that Mark and Delia Owens are properly bonkers but brilliant. I have found this book late, through the fictional writing of Delia Owens. It tells the history of their research in the Kalahari desert in the 1970's and 80's and they do discover important and previously unknown information about lion social systems and ranges in the Kalahari, brown hyena socials systems and the migration of wildebeest during severe droughts but what came across to me time and again was the danger they put t ...more
Michael Stalnaker
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh Delia, how I love your writing 🧡 This book was so cool and immersive to read, learning about the lives and relations between different animals of the Kalahari along with the Owens enduring the secluded, tough terrain of one of the driest and hottest places on Earth. I would recommend this to any animal lover, adventure seeker and nature biologist. (I literally feel like I know so much more now in zoology) 🦁🐆🐺🐃🦜

Any book that gives me that motivation again to see this great planet and experienc
Charles Bookman
May 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Delia Owens writes lyrically about the natural world. Fans of her wildly popular “Where the Crawdads Sing” may be surprised to learn that fifty years ago, she lived for seven years in Botswana’s remote Kalahari Desert, where she studied the behavior of lions and hyenas. Read this book for the adventure tales (cobras in my canned goods!), for the insights into wildlife behavior, and especially to enjoy the early work of a masterful naturalist writer. Read more at .
Melanie Wissel
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mark and Delia Owens tell of their 7 years study of the animals in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. Beginning with almost nothing, not even enough money to get back home, they risk everything to live in this harsh environment studying brown hyenas and their interactions with jackals and lions. I understand now how Delia Owens can describe Kya living remotely in Where the Crawdads Sing as she lived this way in Africa. If you want to feel what it’s like to live away from civilization among wild an ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the 1970's Mark and Delia Owens went into the Kalahari and stayed for seven years. Although they studied the various antelopes and the lions, their main interest was the brown hyena. They observed the family and clan relationships of the brown hyena and discovered that far from acting alone, the hyena had a very well developed society even raising their young in a communal nursery den. The Owens' lived far from any human contact and suffered through the droughts, dry spells, and brush fires w ...more
Kayla Gillen
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
crazy circle of life and death in this one
Ian Billick
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book for field biologists. Amazing what they did and survived. Would be nice to have more detail about how they started and what they did afterward.

Great details about predators.
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cry of the Kalahari was a very intriguing book to read. This was one of my first books I have read about professional research and expected it to be very boring and long. But surprising, it was a fast paced, exciting book that kept my full attention. Mark and Delia Owens are inspirations to scientists all over the world. They literally dropped everything that they were doing, sold all of their belongings, and flew to Africa to study what they loved, the Kalahari Reserve in Botswana. They spent 7 ...more
Jun 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In January 1974, Mark & Delia Owens sold most of their possessions, bought airline tickets to Africa and then drove into Botswana. They spent the next 7 years living in the Kalahari Desert studying the wildlife - brown hyenas, lions, and wildebeast. The early years were before the poachers and mining development so they were able to truly get close to the animals. Each chapter is written from the perspective of one of them, which is good, as you don't get confused about the voice of the storyte ...more
Cry of the Kalahari is a great book about a couple who goes into the desert to do what they love. Mark and Delia Owens lived in the Kalahari Desert for seven years, in the 1970s, studying the animals that live there. They study the animals' characteristics, life styles, behaviors, etc. They learned things about lions, hyenas, jackals, and other animals that had never been recorded.
Cry of the Kalahari is not just a story some is telling. It is an adventure that the reader gets to par take in. Th
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Cry of the Kalahari is an amazing book that tells the story of the journey that Mark and Delia Owens embark on in the Kalahari Desert. On January 4, 1974 Mark and Delia flew to Botswana after selling absolutely everything they owned in the States, they only took the bare minimum for them to be able to live in the wild and to research wild animals that had never had interactions with humans before, which was exactly what they were looking for. The book is does not have their exact scientific find ...more
Soroush Rassi
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In my experience, a book is good when it is honest, captivating, funny, and emotional all at once. In any genre, these qualities are found in literature that encompasses the joy and curiosity of the human spirit. “Cry of the Kalahari” is one of these books, a book that takes the reader through an immensely enjoyable journey alongside Mark and Delia Owens, two zoologists studying the wildlife in and around the Kalahari desert. This true story, taking place in Botswana, Africa during the mid-1970’ ...more
Joe Rodeck
Oct 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Fascinated by the study of the social systems of brown hyenas and lions?

I am.

The authors are brave and bold. They scorn financial risks as well as safety measures when they're around lions. No sparing of the harshness and violence that goes with surviving in a sometimes terribly harsh environment.

But this couple leave me cold. Over seven years they get to know and name the animals they're studying. But when one of these creatures die, not so much as a shrug? Any introspection is limited to
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“Failure was an option we simply could not afford. We had invested all our savings -our dreams and our pride- in this venture. There was no reason to turn around; there was nothing to go back to.” 3 likes
“The entire Blue Pride, nine in all, surrounded us, nearly all of them asleep. We were quite literally in bed with a pride of wild Kalahari lions.” 2 likes
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