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Cry of the Kalahari

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  3,854 ratings  ·  234 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.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Mariner Books (first published 1984)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  3,854 ratings  ·  234 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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
This genuinely isn't what you'd expect: a dull book about scientific research. I actually really enjoyed it. Though slightly boring at times, it's well-written and actually doesn't include a lot of scientific information. I love how the researchers developed a connection with the animals they were studying, in an almost Jane Goodall-esque way. The Owens actually had quite a few witty stories about the animals to share, in addition to the overall plot of the trials and tribulations associated wit ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the smooth-reading record of the time, in the late 70's, of Delia and Mark Owen's time together suffering hardships while they watched and studied the behavior, primarily of lions and brown hyenas, in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana.

Some of the stories record difficult deaths of observed animals, but you should expect that sort of thing from a study of nature.

There is the usual ecological slant towards preserving animals and habitats from the things that threaten them.

Although this boo
Alfredo Luis
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cry of the Kalahari is the best book I've ever read about animals... and man. The authors first book, Mark and Delia Owens went to Africa to study something other than what they found; a beautifully true story set in a remarkable environment. Having impacted my own thinking, the book remains to me a reminder of what is truly important.
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked it! I rad it because I visited the Kalahari in February and thought I should. My expectation was that it would be dry and scientific. But it wasn't. The book is very readable. So much, in fact I bought Eye of the Elephant" to read next.
Kelly Kittel
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a teen, I devoured everything written by Jane Goodall and this book reminded me of her books and the places I've dreamed of visiting all my life. I have long had the goal of taking my children to see African wildlife before it is all gone, and am excited that we're heading to Namibia and Botswana in a couple of months to do just that. Accordingly, this was one of several books on my list to read as a primer and I'm planning to read their next two, as well.

Although we didn’t share the same ec
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nov-2019
Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens and Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman would not usually be reviewed together. However, I read them in the same month and was taken aback by their similarities. Both books focus on mammals trying to find their group in harsh, forbidding environments. The Owenses' book tells of their time in the remote Kalahari Desert researching the eating, breeding, and migration habits of lions and hyenas. Kerman writes about her year in a women's minimum se
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recommend this book as the best example I know of what is going wrong with the ecology of our planet. Africa is the heart of life on Earth, where an abundance of co-dependent species, both predator and prey, depend on their environment to survive.
Crucial to their existence is the ability to migrate or extend their territorial range in between wet and dry seasons. The fact that we are all experiencing global warming, a product of our industrialisation of the world which is exhausting the world
DONNA Edwards
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suspect that I am one of many who read this book because they wanted more of Delia Owens after reading “Where the Crawdads Sing.” The book is co-authored with her husband at the time, Mark Owens. This book is not a novel but a book that captures their lives and the animals they studied in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana.

The authors kept extensive journals during their seven years in the desert. They use very descriptive language as they recount their experiences. Having been to Africa over 20
David D.  Knapp, Ph.D.
Kathy and I stumbled on the nonfiction work of Mark and Delia Owens after reading her novel "Where the Crawdads Sing" and having a friend recommend their second book "The Eye of the Elephant" (which is next on my nonfiction list).

Reading this book was so powerful for both of us because it took us back to last year's safari in South Africa (although this takes place in Botswana). The Owens' encounters with the brown hyenas, jackals, lions, and other animals of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve ma
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As both a lover of memoirs and someone who's gone on several extended African safari trips, I was already predisposed to love the subject matter of this book. The writing here is excellent, and co-authors Mark and Delia Owens have published something meaningful with this book. Cry of the Kalahari is both a poetic homage to the beauty of Africa and a vehicle for animal researchers Delia and Mark Owens to share their important message about the need for better of wildlife habits, and more specific ...more
Wendy Jackson
I feel conflicted about this book. On the one hand, it is extremely well-written and I am not sure many authors could relay scientific research more compellingly. It read like a novel with twists and turns and a great cast of characters (human and otherwise). The Owens' contribution to conservation science is clear, and they took considerable personal risk to do it.

On the other hand, I recently read this fascinating long-read New Yorker article ( about t
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