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Secrets of the Savanna

Secrets of the Savanna

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When Mark and Delia Owens settled in a Zambian wilderness, they found the elephants and other wildlife decimated by poachers; the local villagers, who depended on the wildlife, were driven to desperate actsincluding poaching themselves. To save both people and animals, the Owenses started an innovative microlending program that lifted the villagers out of poverty and allowed the wildlife populations to recover. But the older elephants had been slaughtered for their tusks, taking with them knowledge that had been passed along to the young for generations. Left behind was social chaossingle moms, solitary orphans, rowdy gangs of young malesand a scientific mystery: how could there be so many babies and so few females old enough to be mothers? A young orphan named Gift eventually provided the clue to the remarkable scientific discovery that revealed the elephants" secret. But the poachers and ivory smugglers shifted their sights from the elephants to the Owenses, threatening their lives, raiding their camp, and finally driving them out of the country. After two decades in Africa, Mark and Delia returned to America to find social changes frighteningly similar to what they had seen among the elephants of Zambia.