Seeing the Elephant - The Ties that Bind Humans and Elephants

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 February, 2006, 12:00am

Seeing the Elephant - The Ties that Bind Humans and Elephants

by Eric Scigliano

Bloomsbury, $130

Seattle Zoo paid US$165,000 for a baby elephant. The same money could have paid for 50 anti-poaching rangers in Myanmar for five years. It's all a matter of looking at things in proportion, but the elephant always seems to defy such logic. Published in hardcover as Love, War and Circuses in 2002, the paperback release has been more aptly re-titled Seeing the Elephant. Eric Scigliano writes with enthusiasm about how often deceptive perceptions of the elephant since at least 6000BC have pushed it to the brink of extinction. Scigliano says this 'iceberg' of a book is 'a love story, a murder mystery, a familial drama, and a saga of biological and cultural evolution played out over aeons'. It's that, and more. The Asian elephant, the reader will learn, is the ancestor, not the descendant, of the woolly mammoth, and it's through South and Southeast Asia that Scigliano treks, concluding that, when there are no wild areas left, there will be no elephants. It's as simple as that.


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