- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Eland Publishing; Reprint edition (May 30 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1906011699
- ISBN-13: 978-1906011697
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #534,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Travels on My Elephant Paperback – May 30 2013
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About the Author
Mark Shand is a travel writer with a playboy past which has been exchanged for the life of a fund-raising conservationist. His travel books include River Dog: A journey down the Brahmaputra, Queen of the Elephants, Skullduggery and Travels on my Elephant for which he received the Travel Writer of the Year award. The latter journey directed led to his foundation of Elephant Family - a charity specifically established to protect the environment of the Asian elephant, tiger and orang-utan, and is currently engaged in the creation and acquisition of half kilometre wide jungle corridors that connect together the various different forest reserves.
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However, as he soon discovers, elephants have a lot of personality, and he quickly falls in love with his. The pleasure of the book is not its travelogue description of the sights and sounds along the way (although these do break things up), but the mischievous antics of the elephant and the discovery of its personality as a loving and lovable creature. Tara, the elephant, displays remarkable intelligence and wit over the course of the journey, although at times Shand does veer into anthropomorphizing her. While he doesn't go deep into the role of the elephant in Indian and Hindu culture, it's clear from his travels that they are widely revered as symbols of Ganesh, as bystanders often often small prayers and alms to Tara.
Shand's own lessons in becoming a "mahoot", one who is versed in the ways of elephants and able to ride/guide one, is an equally fascinating and touching story. An older and younger mahoot are along to train him, as is a photographer friend and two rascally drivers with a support Jeep. It's a fun adventure, with a suspiciously fortuitous climax at the market, when Shand discovers he can't bear to sell his elephant for use as a moneymaking curiosity. It's a touching book in many ways, although some readers may be put off by the notion of a Westerner traipsing around a poor country on an elephant, especially given India's colonial past. Still whatever one may think of that, Shand's love for the animal is clearly genuine. He's written a followup book (Queen of the Elephants), that's apparently not as good.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
He was a remarkable person in that was a champion of elephants and their protection and also of the environment. It is a wonderful read and I'm so grateful I was able to get this copy. It is in excellent condition and even has the book jacket. I highly recommend this as a great read.