A lyrical and personal account of encounters with elephants

29 May 2020 - 12:30
Hannah Mumby's evocative account of years spent studying elephant behaviour in the wild is deeply personal.
Hannah Mumby's evocative account of years spent studying elephant behaviour in the wild is deeply personal.
Image: Supplied

Watching a family swimming on a hot day, Dr Hannah Mumby notes grandmothers, mothers, sisters and children exchanging noisy greetings, a consistent stream of close-range vocalisations, intermittent touching, co-operative herding of babies and frequent stopping for snacks. A close and interconnected family. But in this family, the adults weigh several tons each and the babies wave trunks playfully at one another. This is a herd of elephants.

That elephants are intelligent and sentient beings is common knowledge, yet so much about their day-to-day lives and abilities remains unknown.

How do they communicate with one another over seemingly impossible distances? How do males spend their lives once they have left their mothers’ herds? And how much do they really remember?

In this lyrically written and deeply personal account of several years of field research, Mumby reverently describes her own elephant encounters, alongside an exploration of the most up-to-date discoveries about the lives of these gentle giants.

Learn how elephants live, travel, mate, raise children and relate to one another, and reflect on how they think and feel. Understanding elephants as individuals closes the gap between human and animal, and has powerful applications in the critical field of elephant conservation.