Non Fiction

An Elephant in My Kitchen by Françoise Malby-Anthony, Katja Willemsen

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I had tears in my eyes for large chunks of this book, both of joy and sadness. The realities of the issues plaguing this part of the world on a daily basis are not so easy to read about. This goes beyond the machinations of politics and war. Whatever the root cause for the current status of poaching in the African continent was, it’s present face is uglier still to behold.

This story is not just about the dire situations conservationists are constantly battling to keep certain species in existence and other species from unnecessary pain and or torture. It is also filled with the anecdotes of the intelligence and emotional requirements of those animals. It did not come as a surprise as to the emotional quotient and capacity of elephants but certain incidents were hair raising anyway(in a good way). This book is not for the faint of heart because it is brutal in the swift change from gamboling baby animals to illness to something even worse. This is a book about the Thula Thula reserve in Zululand and their day to day struggles to stay afloat and continue to make a difference. We are given an up-close and personal look at the lifestyles and hurdles.

I would have bought it or read it again if it was paced better. As content goes it is, it is important, valid and something that should definitely be ‘trending’. But there is a lot of back and forth with the timeline leaving me confused about where I was in the narrative and the age or situation of the animals I was already introduced to. I think this book provides an interesting window into the amount of hard work that goes into the running and maintenance of the reserve as well as how outsiders can help. A good way seems to be to acknowledge and spread the fact that the composition of the horn is keratin, the same as our nails. This fact (as with the previous book I reviewed set in Namibia) is iterated multiple times, enough to drill the significance of it into our minds and hope to make it common knowledge enough to make a difference someday in the near future.

I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but this review is completely based on my reading experience. I, unfortunately, did not have any pictures in the ARC but from the looks of the acknowledgments at the end, the book comes with pictures, I wish I had a chance to see.

This was an eye-opening book. I found the youtube channel for them when I went looking for pictures of the reserve: Thula Thula Youtube

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