The Astonishing Elephant is an unabashed celebration of these mysterious creatures, whose closest living relatives are the dugong and the hyrax. 'They have,' Alexander writes, 'essential nobility,grace, serenity, sagacity, loyalty and playfulness, a simple goodness, a alack of animosity - unless provoked.'While she admits elephants can pose particular dangers to unwary humans (she recounts tales of circus trainers of her acquaintance, some of whom fell in action), they are too often the victims in any interaction with people. The elephant's fortunes have long been declining: where only a few thousand years ago several species roamed the earth, by 1980 the combined wild populations in Africa and Asia numbered fewer than 100,000 individuals.
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