The Hidden Life of Elephants

“When I look in the mirror, I see an elephant,” writes Hannah Mumby. The British behavioral researcher explains in her book how she came to this astonishing view – an amusing and informative mixture of textbook, autobiography and travelogue.

Bulumko, Thaung Sein Win, Pepsi: The young biologist uses elephant personalities like this in Africa and Asia to describe how she approached these fascinating animals. And of course the stories of famous elephants are not missing, such as that of Jumbo, whose name has become synonymous with greatness. He came to North America from Sudan via Paris as an attraction and was fatally injured by a locomotive in Ontario in 1885 at the age of only 24.

In her stories and descriptions, Hannah Mumby imparts impressive knowledge about the biology and above all about the social life of elephants. And it makes it clear that the life and behavior of the sensitive pachyderms have parallels to humans in many respects. Which makes it all the more depressing that humans poach these giants so mercilessly for their tusks.

Mumby, who now teaches at the University of Hong Kong, embeds her biological explanations in her personal experiences at research stations in Asia, Africa and the USA. This also makes reading interesting for young researchers, according to the motto: Biology can be so exciting.

Klaus Zintz

Hannah Mumby
Carl Hanser, 302 S., € 26,–
ISBN 978-3-446-26931-6

Frank Westerman
Structure, 278 p., € 22.00
ISBN 978–3–351–03826–7

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