I received this book as a Christmas gift and I have to say I. Love. It.
True confession: A while back I watched a PBS special called My Wild Affair: The Elephant Who Found a Mom and fell in love with Dame Daphne and her story. I, myself, already had a love affair going with wild Africa and her animals, along with a deep desire to foster conservation efforts and animal protection.
The documentary pulled at my heartstrings with a story about an orphaned baby elephant named Aisha that she cared for many years ago. I cried right along with Dame Daphne as she recounted the heartbreaking story of Aisha’s short life and death. To a certain extent, this orphaned baby elephant, and others like her, lead the Sheldricks down a path to where the Wildlife Trust is now, many years later.
But prior to the documentary, I knew little about Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the author of the book and her connection to the Wildlife Trust. I was intrigued. I wanted to read more about Aisha and know about the orphanage.
But the book is about so much more! (in fact, recounting that story was only a page or two in the book!)
Starting as a child in Kenya, you understand the beginning of Daphne’s love of animals, having grown up with all sorts in and around her house, starting with a mongoose, followed by the usual rabbit, cats, chicks and ducklings. Then an orphaned baby bushbuck came into her life.
“Bushy was the first creature to provide me with an insight into the wonders of the wild animal kingdom. He was gorgeous to look at, with large soft ears and beautiful liquid eyes, his skin of a rich chestnut colour with white patches on his throat and vertical white stripes and spots on his body. I could spend ages just stroking and cuddling him…
“As he grew up and became more independent, Bushy became more responsive. I would talk to him endlessly, absolutely convinced that he understood everything I said to him.”
The book is written in such an engaging way that you have the feeling Dame Daphne is there beside you recanting the adventures. Peppered with tales of history, people, animals, conflicts and events, sharing personal stories of her life and her love of David Sheldrick, the book drops us off in the present, providing rare insight into a most amazing and extraordinary life.
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