Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 8, 2012 - Nature - 352 pages
3 Reviews

Daphne Sheldrick, whose family arrived in Africa from Scotland in the 1820s, is the first person ever to have successfully hand-reared newborn elephants. Her deep empathy and understanding, her years of observing Kenya's rich variety of wildlife, and her pioneering work in perfecting the right husbandry and milk formula have saved countless elephants, rhinos, and other baby animals from certain death.

In this heartwarming and poignant memoir, Daphne shares her amazing relationships with a host of orphans, including her first love, Bushy, a liquid-eyed antelope; Rickey-Tickey-Tavey, the little dwarf mongoose; Gregory Peck, the busy buffalo weaver bird; Huppety, the mischievous zebra; and the majestic elephant Eleanor, with whom Daphne has shared more than forty years of great friendship.

But this is also a magical and heartbreaking human love story between Daphne and David Sheldrick, the famous Tsavo Park warden. It was their deep and passionate love, David's extraordinary insight into all aspects of nature, and the tragedy of his early death that inspired Daphne's vast array of achievements, most notably the founding of the world-renowned David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Orphans' Nursery in Nairobi National Park, where Daphne continues to live and work to this day.

Encompassing not only David and Daphne's tireless campaign for an end to poaching and for conserving Kenya's wildlife, but also their ability to engage with the human side of animals and their rearing of the orphans expressly so they can return to the wild, Love, Life, and Elephants is alive with compassion and humor, providing a rare insight into the life of one of the world's most remarkable women.


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I have been supporting the Sheldrick orphanage for years--I send money and adopt young elephants for my family members as Christmas presents. I read the autobiography with great anticipation and interest in the formation of the Sheldrick Foundation, but quickly learned that this subject was a small portion of the engaging memories and stories Dame Daphne has to tell. There are countless warn and satisfying vignettes of caring for helpless animals of all kinds over the many decades covered. This is a must read for any animal lovers, environmentalists, and the few of us who may think that one person, or two in this case, can't make a significant difference in the world. Ironically, the only part of the book that dragged somewhat was the final few chapters dealing with the most recent continuation of the great work done by the surviving Sheldricks. My Mom is now reading the book and really is enjoying it--she is a young 92. Highly recommended. Have tissues handy. Cheers, Dwight 


List of Illustrations
1 Settlers
2 Childhood
3 Growing Up
4 Married Life
5 Falling in Love
6 Decisions
10 Conflict
11 Discovery
12 Expansion
13 Turmoil
14 Grief
15 Growth
16 Achievement

7 New Beginnings
8 Love and Orphans
9 Settled

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About the author (2012)

Dame Daphne Sheldrick is a Kenyan author, conservationist, and expert in animal husbandry, particularly the raising and reintegrating of orphaned elephants into the wild. From 1955 to 1976, Sheldrick was co-warden of Kenya's Tsavo National Park.

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