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Monday, September 23, 2019


It deserves to be thoroughly read and digested by every citizen of this planet. (Review by Barry Meehan)

The Last Elephants is compiled by Don Pinnock and Colin Bell. This beautiful book is so much more than something given as a gift to adorn a friend’s coffee table. It deserves to be thoroughly read and digested by every citizen of this planet, whether he or she is concerned about our environment and the destiny of the world’s wildlife, or – like so many people around the world – hasn’t given it much thought.

Don Pinnock is a historian, criminologist, environmental journalist and photographer. Colin Bell has worked throughout Africa as a bush guide and environmental advocate. They got together to compile The Last Elephants on the back of the Africa-wide Great Elephant Census of 2016, which produced some shocking findings – a decimated elephant population whose numbers were continuing to plummet.

The figures are frightening – there are fewer than 450,000 elephants left across the whole of Africa, compared to the 3 to 5 million just 100 years ago. The census found that an elephant is killed every 15 to 20 minutes of every day, every week and every month.

Over 40 writers have contributed to The Last Elephants – researchers, conservationists, poets, activists and rangers. Some of the content is heart-breaking, some uplifting, but all have something to say about the sad plight of the continent’s largest and most majestic animals.

The photographs that accompany the narratives are truly magnificent, and have been selected from among Africa’s finest wildlife photographers, showing every side of the personalities of these remarkable creatures.

The quote below is from the foreword of the book, by His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cambridge:

“I am not prepared to be part of a generation that lets these iconic creatures disappear and have to explain to our children why we lost the battle when we had the tools to win it. We have the opportunity to end the mixed messages we have sent for too long about the value and desirability of wildlife products. We need to make it quite clear and broadcast widely that ivory is a symbol of destruction, not of luxury and not something that anyone needs to buy or sell. We must say that rhino horn does not cure anything and does not need a legal market. We must send a message to the world that it is no longer acceptable to buy and sell ivory, rhino horn and other illegal products.”

The Last Elephants is almost 500 pages, so it cannot be devoured in a single sitting. It should be savoured and discussed as widely as possible, especially the chapter towards the end as to how one can get involved in the protection of elephants and other wildlife – what one should and should not do, along with a listing of worthy organisations that need support in their quest to preserve this “larger-than-life” but endangered species.

The Last Elephants is published by Penguin Random House South Africa - ISBN 9781775846840 and RRP R490.00 – Barry Meehan