Earth to Sky: Among Africa's Elephants, a Species in Crisis
1 Jan 2013
Elephants are among the earths most sentient beings. They remember, they experience grief and joy, fear and love. Indeed, as our knowledge of these extraordinary creatures increases, the more they transcend all preconceptions of animal behavior. Michael Nick Nichols, longtime photographer for National Geographic as well as the magazines editor-at-large for photography, has been working with African elephants for more than twenty years. In Earth to Sky he tells their story through poignant images that bring us directly into their habitats lush forests and open savannas, or stark landscapes ravaged by human intervention to observe the animals daily engagements and activities. Nichols' photographs are accompanied here by the words of such celebrated figures in the field of conservation as Iain Douglas-Hamilton, J. Michael Fay, Peter Matthiessen, Cynthia Moss, David Quammen, and many others. In addition, Nichols engages us in his photographic journey with personal and informative introductions to each of the books four chapters exploring life in the wild, the ivory trade, family interactions, and programs for orphaned elephants. The survival of elephants is under dire threat from humankind, most immediately from the market for ivory. More than twenty-five thousand elephants are slaughtered each year, and their ivory is sold at astronomically high prices to countries such as China, Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore. African elephant refuges are under siege; many park rangers have been murdered in the fray. The misuse of elephants ivory as a commodity has to stop but, as Nichols makes clear, the issue must be addressed with a full and empathetic understanding of the poverty and corruption that persist in the countries where elephants roam. In Earth to Sky Nichols demonstrates that the world needs elephants, and insists that we do all we can to protect their spaces and their lives. Sadly, most signs point to a tragic conclusion for these wise and emotionally complex creatures. This book is an urgent call for us to bring that process to a halt, while we still can.