This book is informative in both scientific and cultural manner, containing facts and statistics. It describes the anatomy of both African and Asian elephants with beautiful illustrations. It highlights how they are so similar to humans in their behaviour, particularly their social interactions and their intelligence. The author writes about their evolution in detail and the different primitive elephants that have existed in the past 5 million years, with a focus on the most famous of all the prehistoric elephants, the mammoth. There is a huge array of images in this book which show elephants from every aspect of our civilisation and every angle of them. Some of these images are photographs but the book takes you to a time before cameras meaning many of the images are paintings or drawings.
However, it is a reminder of how these magnificent creatures have been introduced into our culture and horrifically exploited here. Some of the stories in the book are so cruel they are difficult to read, along with some of the images, which are so heart-breaking they are difficult to look at. But it is important that we do, both read and see, in order to understand that elephants are among the most persecuted of all animals on this Earth.
The final chapter talks about conservation. Their population decline and the threats they face. The threat is, quite simply, us. However, the author explains why there is no easy fix. Yet there are some solutions that are described and how we must utilise these and stay hopeful.
Reviewed by Alana Moss-Deeley
Elephant. Errol Fuller (2019). Princeton University Press. Hardback pp283. ISBN 978-0-691-19132-4. £25.