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The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,329 ratings  ·  101 reviews
After being expelled from Botswana for writing their controversial bestseller Cry of the Kalahari, Mark and Delia Owens set off on a journey across Africa, searching for a new Eden. They found it in Zambia, but elephant poachers soon had them fighting for their lives when they tried to stop the slaughter. 16 pages of photos, half in color.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 29th 1993 by Mariner Books (first published December 31st 1992)
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Kaytee Cobb
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, borrowed
Gosh, this was fantastic. I kept forgetting it was real. And you can see the seeds of Delia's writing here. It's detailed and interesting and wonderful. And, yup, I cried.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked this book as I was reading it although I knew it was dated having been published in 1992. It was educational, if heartbreaking, and really immersed me in North Lunagwa National Park in Zambia. The book begins as the Owenses are expelled from Botswana and the Kalahari, their original project in Africa. It is never really made clear to the reader or to Mark and Delia Owens why they were expelled but they assumed it was because they were exposing non-environmental practices that were direct ...more
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this book. I tried. The information and the story of what these two conservationists have done is amazing, however the overly flowery descriptions and romanticized views of Africa almost drowned out the reason for the book. In North Lunagwa National Park in Zambia the elephants were poached almost out of existence. To make matters worse, the game rangers and politicians were corrupt and in on it! These were very important changes that these two wonderful people made to th ...more
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was Nonfiction on Elephant preservation in Africa. The story that the authors share takes place mostly in the 1980's. It was kind of fascinating watching their life unfold. They were dedicated to living with and protecting African wildlife. This book centered on lions, then elephants. It was so sad that there was so much poaching going on. Such tragedy, but poaching was a living for the locals.

Strong and old tradition are strong and often times heavy anchors that keeps people from moving in
Morgan Tallman
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Yes, it took me exactly 4 months to finish this book but chalk that up to life, not this book. This was a fabulous read of powerful people doing all they can to save powerful, hunted animals in a country set against them. It was a wild journey following Mark and Delia from a desert to a forest, all the time doing what they can to research and save elephants and lions. There’s more written by them with the same topic, so I hope to pick up another soon
Sierra Cook
Was written very well, and had a lot of very valuable information about the poaching problems of Africa in the 80’s - 90’s. Had a very valuable lesson but also gave a good story about one couples determination on saving wild Africa. I enjoyed reading it.
Nov 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: wildlife lovers, adventurers, researchers, Africa enthusiasts
The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness is a direct sequel to the memoir Cry of the Kalahari by husband-and-wife wildlife research team Cordelia Dykes Owens (Delia) and Mark James Owens. It picks up right where the latter book left off, but continues the saga in Zambia where the Owenses go to continue studying and protecting African wildlife. The overall presentation and structure of the narrative is more suspenseful and designed to impress upon the reader th ...more
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book written by Delia Owens and her husband Mark Owens, they lived in the wilderness of Africa for about 30 years studying African Animals. Delia is now the author of her first novel, WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, Loved it!
Kelly Kittel
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this caveat from the beginning of this enlightening book: “The names of the innocent in this book have been changed to protect them from the guilty; the names of the guilty have been changed to protect us. The rest of this story is true.”

And I loved that they quote one of my favorite poets, the former poet laureate of Oregon, William Stafford, happy to find him so far from his usual muse, “The most present of all the watchers where we camped were the animals that stood beyond the fireligh
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I sometimes forgot this was nonfiction. I'm inspired by their integrity.
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having lived in Africa for a couple of years in the late 70s and having seen elephants, lions, wildebeasts by the thousands, roaming freely, when I came across this book, I was curious. I'm glad I found it.

The writing is descriptive and inclusive. The conditions, customs and corruption were accurately portrayed. The friendly, infectious enthusiasm of the always smiling people was pervasive. The description of the interpersonal relationships between the authors, their employees, the villagers and
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 this book - the second memoir of their adventures researching in Africa. (I previously read and reviewed their first: "Cry of the Kalahari").

Unlike that first book, which was set in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, "The Eye of the Elephant" is more disturbing than uplifting. Instead of focusing on their animal research, it chronicles th
Three and a half. Having traveled to several African countries, including Botswana and Zambia, I enjoyed the descriptions of the landscape and animals by the authors. I believe they were heroic in their efforts to end poaching. I found myself skipping over some of the flowery writing (it sometimes sounded a little like an attempt at "Out of Africa??"). I also realize it was written decades ago. I did learn a lot about the poaching that went on, the reasons behind it, and how scary it must have b ...more
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This non-fiction is largely written in alternating chapters by married wildlife researchers Delia and Mark Owens, who spent many years in Africa. At the beginning, they are expelled from their previous home in the Kalahari Desert where they were researching lions and begin again in Zambia, where their focus quickly becomes preventing poaching particularly of elephants. The descriptions of African wildlife and landscapes are beautiful, although their interactions with locals were sometimes frustr ...more
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I’m taking a trip to Zambia later this year and was excited to hear there was a book about one of the national parks we will be visiting while there. the first part of the book was fascinating and then it became so much about the poaching and then it felt like they had the “white savior” mentality.

So I googled them and then came across an pretty fanning article about their methods and their eventual departure due to those methods. It’s called “The Hunted” and it was in the New Yorker. I recomme
Eric Jolly

At its best, there were segments of this book that were completely heartbreaking. It was painful to read further as poachers attacked gentle, giant elephants (I don’t understand
the ivory trade to begin with). It was great to see that Survivor did survive...but was changed by poacher contact.

You can also see the strain on Mark and Delia personally in endeavors to encourage conservation and ponder whether it’s worth it, fighting an uphill battle with completely corrupt Zambian government
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This rich biography of two conservationists had me enthralled from the first paragraph to the last. I couldn't put the book down. Just when I thought I'd reached a dull moment, it took off in a twist and had me on the edge wondering if the author would crash a plane, get shot by a poacher, or trampled by a large wild animal. The book is written in a style that's easy to read. The description of the characters and the land make you feel that you are there with them in the heart of Africa. Much li ...more
Patricia Eney
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
After reading “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which I loved, I decided to try another Delia Owens’ book. “The Cry of the Elephant” was written jointly by Delia and her husband Mark. It chronicles the couples’ quest to save the wildlife of Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park in the late 1980s from poachers. I’ve read several reviews from readers who found this book too detailed for its own good, and I agree. The plight of the wildlife, especially the elephants, was heart wrenching, but the amount of ...more
Anne Egbert
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am still dumbfounded by the life these two people have lead. Wow. And I am continually amazed at the similarities between the death from poaching of almost all of the adult parents in the elephant population in Zambia and problems in our present day society, especially minority populations who lose so many parents to incarceration and addictions. Turns out elephants and humans really need strong stable families to do their best. And how amazing that many elephants in a response to the poaching ...more
Joan Kark
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is about the second time that Delia and Mark have spent time in Africa. Their first time was during the 70’s. This book covers the 80’s and very early 90’s. During their years in Africa they spend their time studying lions and elephants and trying to preserve the Africa they knew. The herds follow ancient tracks during the dry season trying to survive. But much of the land has been fenced off in order to raise cattle. With these fences the herds must travel many hundreds farther during ...more
Sue Sheppard
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having recently read and loved “Where the Crawford Sing” I was eager to read more by this talented, detail-oriented, author. Having lived in South Africa, I was excited to discover that Delia and her husband Mark were such dedicated, selfless animal lovers who have added much to our understanding of African animals and to the conservation of these. This biographical adventure often had me stunned at the almost illogical daring of a highly intelligent couple who undertook numerous incredibly dang ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this for several reasons. She is the author of the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing and I've read there is controversy surrounding the end of that book and the work she and her ex husband did combating poachers in Botswana and Zambia from the 70's to the 90's. Secondly I'm traveling to Malawi and Zambia next month. Anyway, I enjoyed the book. It really details the struggles the Owenses faced when dealing with the government of both countries and the people involved in p ...more
Stephanie Tanton
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
After reading “Where the Crawdads Sing”, I wanted to read more of Delia’s books. This book written jointly by Delia and her husband Mark is a journal of their 24 years in the Kalahari and Zambia national parks.
Their fight to overcome the devastastion of elephant hunting and turn around the economy of the villages is overwhelming but they persevere. They work with the local scouts hired to protect the parks against poaching only to find that the scouts are helping the poachers. It is their love o
Richard Crowe
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully educational

The Eye of the Elephant tells of the brave and determined work of Mark and Delia Owens to save the elephants of Africa from systemic poaching by the indigenous people of the country. Through their efforts, the people were taught the value of wild animals to the world and were given loans and tools to create alternative businesses from which to feed their families. The book not only highlights the threat to wildlife; it offers viable solutions. The experiences of the Owens
Kathy Nelson
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I would rate this book 4+ stars. The author of Where the Crawdads Sing has coauthored with her husband this amazing memoir of the first 5 years of their life in the wilderness of Zambia. Their efforts in trying to save the wildlife of a Zambian national Park is beyond heroic. This is a tale of love, determination and true grit. I highly recommend it. It was shocking to learn how many animals in this park have been killed by poachers - tens of thousands of many different species but especially el ...more
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredible record of the Owens’ life and work in Zambia’s Luanga National Park to save the elephants. Alternating narratives from Delia and Mark take us on an intimate journey into the wild heart of East Africa. The story of Survivor, an old bull elephant, is a metaphor for the struggle of wildlife against man. The Owens’ work to establish cultural awareness of the value of their wildlife and a strong network of park rangers is certainly praise-worthy. The long struggle to get African countri ...more
Mark Barnes
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Anything by Delia Owens is worth reading. She is one of our most graceful storytellers. This story, with contributing author Mark Owens is one to be shared and remembered. The authors chronicle years of life in Africa, battling elephant poachers, a corrupt government, and often dangerous environmental conditions. As the story unravels, you’ll curse the poachers, despise the police, cheer the courageous Owens, and agonize with the elephants. It will feel like you’re there, in the North Luangwa Na ...more
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This followup book didn't have the raw adventure as "Cry of the Kalahari" because Mark and Delia now had funding for their work. There wasn't concern of getting money or running out of food or water and they had better equipment. But they had new issues to deal with (elephant poaching) and they did see old animal friends before moving on. Topping a book like "Cry of the Kalahari" is no easy feat and this one comes up short but I would still encourage anyone who read it to read this one as well.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Eye of the Elephant” was very informative and I will continue to read more of the Owens books in the future. For anyone like myself who is concerned for the welfare and survival of Animals, large or small, this book is a testament to the struggles that humans can endure when when they are passionate about a cause. Mark and Delia Owens are in my Hero category along with Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey.
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Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa—Cry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Id ...more

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