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Elephant Dawn: The Inspirational Story of Thirteen Years Living with Elephants in the African Wilderness

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  490 ratings  ·  131 reviews
In 2001, Sharon Pincott traded her privileged life as a high-flying corporate executive to start a new one with the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe. She was unpaid, untrained, self-funded and arrived with the starry-eyed idealism of most foreigners during early encounters with Africa. For thirteen years - the worst in Zimbabwe's volatile history - this intrepid Australi ...more
Kindle Edition, 392 pages
Published May 25th 2016 by Allen & Unwin
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Christina Russo
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sharon Pincott's Elephant Dawn is one of the most powerful stories I have read about elephant conservation in recent years.

I conducted an interview with Pincott for National Geographic while she still lived just outside Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park ("The Fate of the Presidential Elephants"). During that time she was enduring not only a volatile political climate but facing numerous threats in the face of doing what she loved most: monitoring and protecting the elephants in their wild habitat.
Sarah Aitken
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, esp those who want to follow their hearts
This is an extraordinary story. The author lets you think for yourself so do that right throughout and the ending will flood you with emotion.
Debra Penlington
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It shows the pull of Africa which we experienced after our vacation and highlights many things we were not aware of. The author writes of her personal experiences over the years to highlight what are dire problems in this African country (Zimbabwe) making it much more real than any journalist report. The background events in the country itself were not my focus initially but they proved important for me to be able to properly grasp the issues that elephant face and the stark c ...more
Brenda Mitchell
I don't find time to read as often as I would like but I encourage everyone to read this incredible story. A good cry brings relief and I had several while absorbing every last word of this beautiful story. Sharon Pincott is an elephant heroine. Now she is mine too. This book is powerful and gut wrenching, unforgettable and worthy of high praise. I am in awe. ...more
Margaret Crampton
I enjoyed this book and learnt a lot about elephant behavior and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. It’s a story of one Australian woman’s devotion to the President’s herd of elephants in Hwange Zimbabwe against all odds: Isolation, alienation, insecurity, threats, a volatile political situation and the land invasions, illegal hunting, the painful snares, gunshots..Yet she was able to protect and befriend these beautiful creatures and give them an international profile. A very moving story.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I rarely find myself wanting to write about a book publicly. Elephant Dawn is different. For years and years I have wanted to do what Sharon Pincott has done but have never taken that risk and that leap. This is a very special book for me with many unforeseen realities about a life in a foreign country working to save the wild you have fallen in love with. It's not a fairy story or a rose-tinted-glasses viewpoint. Rarely it seems is there ever good news out of Zimbabwe though you will find a goo ...more
Nadine Wilson
I'm surprised Sharon Pincott lived to tell this story.
It's common knowledge that countries such as Zimbabwe have no problems dealing with those who dare to speak up. Being a foreigner in that country may have saved her life as I don't like the chances of a resident there doing the same and surviving.
This was an important story to tell.
She managed to endear herself to some officials who I imagine she would have preferred to avoid, for the sake of the elephants. She also successfully managed to sh
Annie Westwood
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you love wildlife and nature and have a dream you will love this book. The greatest love stories are tragedies! I fell in love with these elephants.
Lawrence Holdsworth
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An important and gut-wrenching read but has Zimbabwe learned anything? Readers of this book will have, which is equally as important. Keen for a way to get this under the noses of those that fund wildlife/elephant programmes in Zimbabwe. If their ways have not changed, they are not deserving. This lady is a hero of the elephants, living many lifetimes over, during her forties. Not many of us can attest to that.
Corey Grazer
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: motivational
It's not often I take time to contact an author via website-email as I did even before finishing this book. This story of an Australian female who made an enormous life change leaving a very comfortable and successful life for one of uncertainty in Africa has left an imprint on my being so heavy I use this review to help ease the many emotions running around inside of me since I finished reading it. Others have done it before her, many in fact, not the least Jane Goodall, Diane Fossey, Cynthia M ...more
Kat Perry
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book so much. Inspirational and heart warming in spades. Beautifully written, Sharon Pincott is an inspiration for human kindness to the amazing Presidential Elephants who are so much at risk in Zimbabwe. A stunning book, the best I have read in a very long time. Shines a devastatingly sad light on the filthy ivory trade to China and other Asian countries, as well as 'sports hunting'. Education and awareness is surely the key though. ...more
Gerard Parry
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredible story of dedication to wild elephants in Hwange Zimbabwe.
A firm favorite of mine with a poignant and evocative end.
Anabel Zimin
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: this world audience
Eye-opening, fast-paced, humorous, beautiful and tragic. In one word: Gripping. This book has haunted me for days, a review the best way to let it linger peacefully. Outstanding Sharon Pincott, today's Elephant Whisperer, Elephant Forever Friend. Read it, savour it, remember it. ...more
Bec Hoffman
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was a little hesitant to read this book not wanting to read too much sad but I could not put it down. Sad yes, but exceptional and informative. If you care about wildlife or even if you think you don't, I urge you to read this one even though it left a deep ache in my heart. ...more
Karla Burmester
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: wildlife warriors
By the end of reading even if you do not shed tears you will cry for a country, cry for corruption, cry for a conservationist called Sharon Pincott and you will cry for elephants. This is a very memorable and worthy read. I am reading again.
Letea Taylor
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. Nothing could tear me away from it until the very end and even then I was distracted for days thinking back on it all. The world certainly needs more Sharon Pincott's. ...more
Jo Coddington
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wildlife
I am still thinking about this book two weeks after finishing it. It is an incredibly worthy life this woman has led.
Undoubtedly the goal of this book is to leave the reader deeply affected by not only the plight of the wildlife, particularly the eponymously named presidential elephants, but of all conservationists working in Zimbabwe and Africa. Author Sharon Pincott achieves this goal through sharing her personal struggles and thoughts. She also highlights the way that black and white Zimbabweans are separately impacted by the disastrous land reform policies of the Mugabe regime which is still in power as of ...more
May 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
The more I read about elephants, the more amazed I am at these wonderful animals. Australian Pincott spent thirteen years in Zimbabwe studying the “Presidential Elephants.” The herd was given this name after President Robert Mugabe awarded it a presidential decree in 1990. Symbolizing Zimbabwe’s commitment to responsible wildlife management, the decree was intended to protect these elephants against future hunting and culling. She identified the various elephant family groups and named each anim ...more
Olivia Williams
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. Memorable. Enchanting. Heart-breaking.
I have realized that as visitors we often arrive in a country content just to enjoy the advertised attractions. Elephant Dawn has made me want to dig deeper into what else goes on and to be something more than another dizzy tourist.
The wild elephants the author befriended in Zimbabwe display incredible qualities. It is no wonder she sought out their company in trying times. That they appeared to often seek refuge in her company is extraordinary
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Heartbreaking. This is much more than a simple story about ellies. I feel so desperate for these ones in the African country of, now deceased dictator, Robert Mugabe. Elephants have been facing for thousands of years what we human beings face now. Except their problems are primarily man made. God bless them. God bless us all. With a great deal of time available for reading at the moment, I highly recommend this one. The final chapters will hit you hard.
Ingrid De
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are no words enough to describe how captivating this beautiful, amazing story of the life of Sharon Pincott and her elephants is. Having lived in Zimbabwe myself I was able to relate to much she wrote about. My heart went out to her when she finally had to make the decision to leave her beloved elephants. I felt part of her pain and heartbreak for I too was forced to leave my beloved country. What a brave, courageous lady, what an amazing work you have done. I applaud you and wish you well ...more
Christian Gardiner
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elephant Dawn's a beautiful and poignant story of Africa which took me home. Australian author Sharon Pincott's true north is Africa and she made me feel like it could be mine too. Or at least made me desperate to search for my own. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish despite the many heart-rending struggles for elephants. The last third of this book shook me to my core in a way that I hoped it would. ...more
May 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Few books tagged unforgettable are but for an environment enthusiast this one is. There are whole chapters of this book now imprinted on my mind, difficult to shake. I do enjoy memoir writing when it is good as books like this can transport you to another world just as a good novel can. Add to that a wealth of subject knowledge and free reign to reveal the truths that some will not like to hear and I am in my element. Our natural world is in trouble. Not in a position to commit myself I can at l ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Totally engrossing, moving, disturbing, both heartwarming and heartrending. One woman's fight to save elephants in Zimbabwe, where the level of corruption and greed are beyond anything most people could ever imagine. ...more
Sal Blumel
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully heart wrenching and memorable like I Dreamed of Africa for animals.
Lorna O'Connor
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of a 38 year old Australian who, with no special training, arrived in Zimbabwe in 2001 to work by herself with elephants near Hwange National Park. It is always inspiring to read of someone who is living their dream and making a difference, even more so in this story when so many of the corrupt and envious did so much to try to pull her down and make life difficult. For 13 years they did not succeed even though some of the events during this time were unfathomable and likely on ...more
Amanda Burnham
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wildlife, africa
Wow. This is a must-read story! The book was made even more vivid (in fact I reread it again later) after I found the docu on Sharon Pincott's work and sensational relationship with these beautiful elephants in Zimbabwe of all places. This woman is gutsy. If you haven't seen it do yourself a favor - (beautiful Africa, elephants, other native wildlife, Sharon & colleagues). The book itself is so much better but I loved meeting the individual elephants in person, and Sh ...more
Lorraine Gill
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wildlife
I've found my new favorite wildlife book! Beautifully written with soul and passion it was a joy to read even through torrid times. ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, elephant, africa
This is an important read today to understand at a basic level the internal rot of an African country like Zimbabwe and at a detailed level the worrisome plight of elephant there and everywhere. I lapped up the living-your-dream story along the way.
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Born in Queensland, Australia, Sharon Pincott is the author of Elephant Dawn, and of two other highly acclaimed books published in South Africa. She is also the subject of the internationally successful documentary titled All the President's Elephants. Her work has been profiled in National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Africa Geographic, Forbes Woman Africa, among others. She is a respected wildlife ...more

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“It is here too that I learn about a survey carried out among a group of 95 year olds. If they could do it all again, these wise elders were asked, what would they do differently? They would take more risks. They would take more time for reflection. And they would leave a legacy.” 2 likes
“The most dangerous predator in Africa, I’ve come to realise, is not the lion. Nor can the hippo, the buffalo or the elephant hope to compete. The most dangerous animal by far is man. Hwange” 1 likes
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