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Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens

The Blurb

This is the story of the Owens' travel and life in the Kalahari Desert. Here they met and studied unique animals and were confronted with danger from drought, fire, storms, and the animals they loved. This best-selling book is for both travelers and animal lovers.​

About Mark and Delia Owens

Delia Owens, Ph.D., B.S., and Mark Owens M.Ed., B.S., have conducted research and conservation projects on endangered species in Africa for 23 years. They met in the early 70s as graduate students at the University of Georgia, and soon discovered that they shared the dream of saving part of Africa's vanishing wilderness. Shortly after they married, they auctioned everything they owned, and with $6,000, one-way tickets and back-packs, they headed to "the Dark Continent." For seven years they lived in tents in Botswana's Central Kalahari Desert. There they studied black-maned lions and elusive brown hyenas in an area so remote that the animals had never before seen humans. Cry of the Kalahari, their best-selling book, is a gripping and vivid account of their research and adventures in "the Great Thirst." (See The Kalahari Years)

From 1986 to 1997 the Owenses developed the North Luangwa Conservation Project (NLCP) in Zambia, a multidimensional approach to wildlife conservation and resource development. When Mark and Delia arrived in North Luangwa, more than 100,000 elephants and several thousand black rhinos had already been slaughtered by poachers in the Luangwa Valley; each year 1,000 elephants were still being killed in the "North Park" alone. By 1997, elephant poaching was controlled in North Luangwa. The Eye of the Elephant, the second book by Mark and Delia, published in 1992 by Houghton Mifflin, details their efforts to reclaim the North Luangwa wilderness from commercial ivory and meat poachers. (See North Luangwa Conservation Project)

The Owenses returned to the United States in 1997 to work for conservation in the northwestern United States and to write up their research data from their years of fieldwork in Africa. (See Selkirk Ecosystem Grizzly Bear Recovery Project)

The Owenses are respected scientists in their field and have published in such journals as Nature, Journal of Mammalogy, Animal Behaviour, Natural History, and the African Journal of Ecology. They also serve as roving editors for International Wildlife magazine, in which a number of their articles have appeared.Life, People, Sports Illustrated, and Reader's Digest have all featured articles about Mark and Delia. The Owenses have made repeat appearances on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," the "Merv Griffin Show," "AM Canada," "Late Night America," "Good Morning America," and "People Magazine for TV." "African Odyssey," a National Geographic TV special about Mark and Delia, is still being shown periodically on PBS. In 1996, ABC News' "Turning Point" aired an hour-long documentary on them and their North Luangwa Conservation Project in Zambia.In addition, the Owenses have lectured professionally at the San Diego Zoo, the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences, the Museum of Natural History in New York, the Chicago Academy of Sciences, the San Francisco Zoological Society, and at many other organizations in a variety of American and Canadian cities.

My Review

I recommend this book as the best example I know of what is going wrong with the ecology of our planet. Africa is the heart of life on Earth, where an abundance of co-dependent species, both predator and prey, depend on their environment to survive. Crucial to their existence is the ability to migrate or extend their territorial range in between wet and dry seasons. The fact that we are all experiencing global warming, a product of our industrialisation of the world which is exhausting the world's resources, and destroying the atmosphere which protects us all. If that is not enough, when all else is barren due to failed wet seasons, dried river beds with their fossil mineral deposits are at risk from exploitive chemical companies looking for opportunities for open-cast mining. Add to this the erection of fences to protect livestock from somewhat ambiguous claims that cattle are falling prey to lions, and to protect their cattle from exposure to migrating ungulates such as wildebeest, to prevent foot and mouth disease, instead of the Botswana government introducing a vaccination programme which is the only effective method of controlling this disease. The fences are causing suffering and death to many of these herds preventing them from getting to water and grazing, and only serve to drive animals away from the safety of the game reserve into the hands of hunters and poachers. Mark and Delia Owens spent seven years in the Kalari region, as the only two humans in an area the size of Ireland, to study the rare Brown Hyena, Jackals, and Lions. Living in the harshest of conditions, they had a unique relationship with these animals and other species too. The Lions had a unique relationship with Mark and Delia, on the lion's terms, and appeared to enjoy the company of this special couple, with whom I'm sure they trusted knowing that they were there in the Lion's best interests. The book is written from the heart, and some of it funny and sometimes very sad. Their studies have been internationally recognised and as a direct result of this, much has been done to improve the habitat of these amazing animals that humanity has an obligation to preserve.​

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