The Eye of the Elephant

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 277

Delia and Mark Owens, authors of the best-selling CRY OF THE KALAHARI, return to Botswana and the Kalahari Desert in the midst of a controversy to turn the fragile park into ranchlands. They scarcely begin their new project when they are forced to leave the country as undesirable aliens.

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Their search for a new research site leads them to the North Luangwa Valley, where they hope to study wild elephants. They quickly learn that they must compete with poachers who are slaughtering the elephants for ivory. To their dismay, local Zambians, even the park scouts, participate in the poaching to secure meat for their families.

The Owenses establish a permanent camp and mount a war against the poachers. Their efforts are divided between harassing the poachers with their airplane and establishing new industries to help the villagers become more self-sufficient.

Their efforts earn for them the wrath of the poachers, and they are targeted for death. The stress of their continuing struggle causes the Owenses to separate temporarily as Delia sets up her own camp along the river.

The Owenses become acquainted with several small bands of elephants only to watch them join the nearly one thousand elephants slaughtered each year in North Luangwa. Despite their efforts, official corruption and local resistance make their attempts to save the elephants seem hopeless.

The Owenses offer a job to any poacher who turns in his weapon. Incredibly, some of them do. The day finally comes when elephants can come to the river to drink in safety. Mark and Delia know they must leave. With a new research permit from Botswana officials, they return to their study of the Kalahari.

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