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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,750 ratings  ·  139 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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Macaela I just started, "Where the Crawdads Sing". Pulls you to the edge of the seat each chapter! Might be a good one to start.
I just started, "Where the Crawdads Sing". Pulls you to the edge of the seat each chapter! Might be a good one to start.

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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  1,750 ratings  ·  139 reviews

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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
Alexis Dutko
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"At this moment, in August 1986, we pledge to each other: no matter what it takes, or how long, we will stay in North Luangwa until the elephants come to drink at the river in peace."

This book is amazingly co-authored by a strong and committed couple who live in the African wilderness and relentlessly fight for the elephants right to live peacefully in their home in the Zambian National Park that is North Luangwa. I have never had such a clear image of what the true, uncharted wilderness of Afr
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. ...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
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was, imo, the best non fiction conservation book I have ever read.
The perfect book : beautiful language and the perfect subject.

I just ordered another book from Delia and Mark Owens: cry of the kalahari.
I can't wait to read it!

reminder to myself: do read this book again sometime
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 The Book Addict
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!
Feb 10, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Want to read this. Scared it’s going to shred my heart. It probably will. But I really want to read it. How could I not, after reading “Where the crawdads sing”? I will inhale everything Delia Owens touches.
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. ...more
Robin Tierney
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A true-life adventure, and I wish that the cruelty that humans inflict upon fellow animals would stop being true-life. The book reveals the tragedies and painful death suffered by astonishing numbers of elephants (also hippos) as poachers hunt them for trafficking their tusks and other body parts around the world. If only people would stop buying such 'products.'

The end -- epilogue, appendix -- reveals sad startling facts/statistics (current as of when the book was published) and gives hope in t
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
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
Russ Trautwig
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amazing true story of Where the Crawdad Sings author Delia Owens and her husband's trials and tribulations on the African Plains. Their efforts to tag and track the lion population led to their struggle to stop poaching, especially of elephants, in Zambia. Delia Owen's delightful naturalist's voice, so striking in The Crawdads, is just as charming here. The story reads like fiction and while there are some parts that are a bit rough to read, the journey is worth it!! ...more
Michelle Adamo #EmptyNestReader
Authored by Delia Owens (Where the Crawdad's Sing) and her former husband, Mark Owens, The Eye of the Elephant recounts their years in Africa as wildlife scientists. Living first in the Kalahari then in Zambia, they tracked the animal populations. "At this moment, in August 1986, we pledge to each other: no matter what it takes, or how long, we will stay in North Luangwa until the elephants come to drink at the river in peace.” While fighting to stop poaching the Owens’ continued their research ...more
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
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
Colleen Callegari
Hair raising

I thought they were very naive.going into this endeavor, endangering their lives, and the animals they wanted to protect. It seemed that they should have been more educated the ways of corruption and bribery. Also they seemed to be lacking a.sense of awareness of the dangers the animals were capable..or(when Delia.stands on a sandbar oblivious to the croc dangers few.feet away from her).Marks junk plane quite unsuitable, being a.hairs breath from crashing at any
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
Lynda Huffman
Jan 17, 2021 rated it liked it
I gave this book a 3 based on the last 1/3 of the book. The first 2/3 of the book I found tedious, and full of far too many details about what it took to get to the last 1/3, which is where the book really takes off.

I’d thoughts the book would focus on Mark and Delia Owens (she is the author of Where the Crawdads Sing) work with animals, and that was their intent when settling in Zambia. But that work was put on hold while they focused all of their attention on ending poaching in the North Lua
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
Sarah Cook Coons
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting read for few reasons: 1) I was fascinated with learning about this part of Delia Owens’ life, as a researcher and conservationist in Africa (she’s currently known as the author of Where The Crawdads Sing), 2) I enjoyed reading about how Delia and her husband Mark lived during their time in remote Africa, 3) I loved reading about the exotic animal sightings and encounters.

I do feel that this book became somewhat redundant when describing Mark’s flight efforts to deter poa
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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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