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

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  617 ratings  ·  33 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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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
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 the st ...more
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
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.
Betsy Gilliland

I didn't particularly enjoy this book. I like most elephant sagas, but this one is more about Mark and Delia and descriptions of the land and environment. Lacks a story even though the message is obviously "save wildlife and preserve natural habitats". I am ready to move on.
Maureen D.  Hunter

Very informative. The devastation of the elephant population is heartbreaking. I will be looking forward to reading more books by these incredibly brave and resilient people.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much! I read it a long time ago, but it's still one of my favorites.
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This couples dedication to saving animals and helping villages be self sustaining is truly amazing. Many people, including myself, have not done as much for the huge amount of people and animals they saved. It is a very powerful book about saving the animals in North Luangwa and positively changing the people in the area so that they could sustain themselves without poaching.

This book took me awhile to get through because I got mad and angry at the poachers. You have to remind yourself that it i
Dylan Lee
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing

This and "Cry of the Kalahari" are not dry, scientific books. I feared they were and didn't read them for almost a decade. But these co-authored books are the furthest things from biologists dating themselves. Well, the two people who wrote them are actually married. And so they actually kind of were dating. Except they didn't have to talk about being exclusive or going to prom or sneaking into their parents' basement to make out or try for second base or anything like that.

Anyway, "The Eye of t
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book picks up the story when the Owens' return to Africa after pursuing graduate degrees following their experiences recounted in "Cry of the Kalahari". They attempt to return to the area in Botswana where they'd worked before but find themselves expelled by the government. (The expulsion was later reversed.) They began looking for another area in which to work and ultimately settled on North Luangwa Valley. From the air it appeared to be a Biologist's heaven in terms of wildlife. The real ...more
Katie/Doing Dewey
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This morning, I finished reading The Eye of the Elephant, one of the extra books I picked up in the 639′s. Although I occasionally think about the fact that I could be doing this until I die if I pick up multiple books for every number, I don’t think that would be so bad, especially if my digressions always lead to such great books! As the subtitle says, this was truly “An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness.” This story of Mark and Delia Owens’ efforts to save the elephants and other wildl ...more
Kimberly Fleming
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoirs
Amazing true story of a couple brought to Zambia to study lions, but instead led a war against elephant poaching in North Luangwa valley. At times this book is incredibly frustrating and upsetting to read, at other times, incredibly inspiring. I thought the first half was slightly better than the second. By the end of the book the story revolves mostly around their anti-poaching efforts and personal battles, and less focus on the animals and nature. I thought their first book "Cry of the Kalahar ...more
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, nature
The authors previously observed lions and other animals in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, but were asked to leave the country because of their outspoken and controversial ideas about conservation. Their search for a new place to work and study brought them to Zambia's North Luangwa National Park, an area the size of the state of Delaware, which was being heavily poached. This account of their work, with its successes and many frustrations, is at once a good armchair travelogue, an adventure ya ...more
Suzanne Auckerman
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Zambia, written by a couple trying to stop mainly elephant poaching, but other animals as well in a remote national park and how deep seated the corruption was that supported it. This book was written in the early 1990s and I have looking on line to find out the current state of this park. You can get there and but in all the trip literature there is not mention of animals being an attraction. Safaris are walking, which indicates possible all the large predators are gone. I will have to g ...more
Dee Mills
Aug 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I haven't finished this one, but I'm putting it aside for now to finish later. I enjoy reading about this couple. They are definitely intrepid and the details of their adventurous life always interests me. However, the struggle they have with elephant poachers in this book are overwhelming. It definitely educates one about the problem but also seems almost hopeless. However, I suspect that they do solve the problem in their corner of the world, just from hints I've read. Right now, nothing is wo ...more
Jun 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book. Mark and Delia take us to Africa and make us feel what it's like for adventurers/environmentalists like them to live on a daily basis with a passion that is ultimately harmful to themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Their accomplishments, however, probably contributed to the present-day conservation movements in African nations, and without people like them, the old Africa and its beautiful animals would be already extinct.
Sep 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Not quite as moving as Cry of the Kalahari, due to the fact that much more of the action concerns human drama than actual research and discovery. However, it is a compelling portrait of the plight of elephants in Africa during the peak of ivory poaching. The determined borderline maniacal fight of the authors to protect and save the natural wonders of their study area is an inspiration.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing book. I loved their sense of adventure, their persistence, their ability to learn and adapt to their environment (both social and physical) and their down-to-earth, people-based approach to conservation. I absolutely loved this book and can't wait to read Cry of the Kalahari next.
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
I have to give this book three stars since it was a very exciting story, and a decent historical account of the mass Elephant slaughter in Zambia. But then I learned how crazy the Owens really are... and it took the fun out of the book for me. I no longer trust most of their stories.
Gay Groomes
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well-written engaging story of the battle to stop poaching. The Owens' time and work in Africa make Beryl Markham's story dull in comparison. Their adventures and experiences had me on the edge of my seat. What dedicated people for the cause of African wildlife, a battle that rages on today.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Absolutely inspiring. I immediately looked into ways to visit and support their cause.
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, safari
Scientists with the souls of poets who can write well. Who love what they are doing. Love the land and its animal inhabitants. What more can you ask for?
Amy Brown
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Good read about 2 conservationists working to stop the poaching of elephants for their ivory in Zambia.
Michelle Holland
Mar 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book 24 hours ago and I'm still "re-living" it in my mind.
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Very cool. Fighting poachers in a national park in Zambia."
Maya Houston
Sep 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Mark and Delia Owens allow the reader to understand the brutality of elephant poaching and seeming futility or anti-poaching endeavors. Thank goodness for people like them.
Sara Rapp
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in nature, conservation, animal rights, africa
Awesome and wrenching. The authors set out to accomplish one job and ended up on a mission for another.
Dec 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
After being banned from Botswana, Mark and Delia Owens continued their conservation work in Zambia. They are very brave.
Aug 22, 2009 is currently reading it
Followup story to Cry of the Kalahari (see my review) by this same adventuresome, driven couple. New locale and focus to their work.
Martha Turnbull
rated it it was amazing
Jan 11, 2014
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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