Elephants on the Edge

What Animals Teach Us about Humanity

G. A. Bradshaw

View Inside Price: $20.00


October 26, 2010
352 pages, 5 7/8 x 9
32 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300167832
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth

Click here to visit the author's website.

Drawing on accounts from India to Africa and California to Tennessee, and on research in neuroscience, psychology, and animal behavior, G. A. Bradshaw explores the minds, emotions, and lives of elephants. Wars, starvation, mass culls, poaching, and habitat loss have reduced elephant numbers from more than ten million to a few hundred thousand, leaving orphans bereft of the elders who would normally mentor them. As a consequence, traumatized elephants have become aggressive against people, other animals, and even one another; their behavior is comparable to that of humans who have experienced genocide, other types of violence, and social collapse. By exploring the elephant mind and experience in the wild and in captivity, Bradshaw bears witness to the breakdown of ancient elephant cultures.

All is not lost. People are working to save elephants by rescuing orphaned infants and rehabilitating adult zoo and circus elephants, using the same principles psychologists apply in treating humans who have survived trauma. Bradshaw urges us to support these and other models of elephant recovery and to solve pressing social and environmental crises affecting all animals, human or not.

G. A. Bradshaw, who holds doctorates in ecology and psychology, is director of the Kerulos Center. Her work on elephants, chimpanzees, parrots, and other animals is frequently featured in the national media, including the New York Times, NPR, 20/20, Time magazine, the London Times, National Geo­graphic television, and National Geographic magazine. She lives in Jacksonville, OR.

“Gay Bradshaw clearly demonstrates in this fascinating book, which is a groundbreaking and remarkable feat of scholarship, that we cannot understand the tenuous relationship between man and elephant (or any other co-inhabitants of the natural world) without a self-reflective insight into the deeper psychological and ethical substrata of our own minds.”—Allan N. Schore, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine University of California at Los Angeles

“Revolutionary and very exciting, this book is important both in terms of elephant biology and elephant welfare.”—Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Trust for Elephants

"African peoples and wildlife have been bound together in a delicate network of interdependence since ancient times. The arrival of colonialism tore apart these bonds:  human brother now fights against elephant brother, and mothers of both species mourn. Elephants on the Edge is an urgent call to end this strife and for humanity to embrace once more the traditions that kept the peace with our animal kin."—Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M. Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Elephants on the Edge is very thoroughly researched and beautifully presented—a devastating, scientific chronicle of the ignorance, cruelty, and mismanagement that placed these magnificent creatures in their present dire situation. Among Bradshaw’s many virtues is that she exposes the cowardice of scientists who are well aware of the damage now in progress but are unwilling to support animal rights or to condemn animal holocausts. We cannot possibly understand the world we live in unless we acknowledge the role we play in its destruction. Should we continue our Nazi-like behavior toward elephants, and indeed, toward any living creatures? Those who read this book won’t want to.”—Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs and of The Old Way: A Story of the First People

 

"Bradshaw brings home to us forcefully what we should have realized long ago:  that destroying the family life of highly social, intelligent animals leads inevitably to misery among individual survivors and pathological misbehaviour among the group."—J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Laureate in Literature, 2003

“In Elephants on the Edge, G. A. Bradshaw helps us face our ethically flawed relationship with animals and nature and what is at stake for all of us.”—John P. Gluck, University of New Mexico; Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University

"The best parts of Bradshaw's narrative reveal the devouted souls who try to rehabilitate orphaned elephants. They feed them, sleep next to them and teach them what their slaughtered or culled relatives would have imparted in better times. This can only make for better elephants."—Jonathan Wright

“A poignant presentation of the eradication of elephant societies. . . The arguments transcend the subject matter of elephants and herald a new cultural stance on human-animal relationships.”—Lori Marino, Emory University

"Elephants on the Edge is a wide-ranging, passionate, well-researched, and urgent call to action. These magnificent, intelligent, and emotional giants are quintessential poster animals for the wounded world in which we live. Read this book, share it widely, and please do something to increase our compassion footprint before it's too late. Healing demands collective cross-cultural action now.”—Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, coauthor with Jessica Pierce of Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals

“At times sad and at times heartwarming, Elephants on the Edge successfully bridges the gap between species. Bradshaw helps us to understand not only elephants, but all animals, including ourselves.”—Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation

"This book. . . is fascinating. . . [and] sheds light on disturbing phenomena relevant to the future not only of elephants, but also of humans subjected to similar disruption. Read it.”—Robert M. May, Professor Lord May of Oxford OM AC Kt FRS

“This book opens the door into the soul of the elephant. It will really make you think about our relationship with other animals.”—Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation

"An existentialist’s tract wrapped in a naturalist’s treatise, this unusual volume explores a mighty species from the inside out. . . . A reasoned appeal to morality that’s as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking."—The Atlantic Monthly

“Bradshaw suggests we have completely underestimated elephants' emotional capacities. . . . The evidence that human and elephant behaviors are similar is compelling. . . . This book is engrossing and will appeal to a general audience."--Paula Kuhumbu, Conservation Biology

 

 

“A remarkable study of elephant–human interactions."--Tim Flannery, The New York Review of Books

 

“With its heartbreaking findings and irrefutable conclusions, this book bears careful reading and consideration.”—Publishers Weekly

"Bradshaw offers heartwarming case studies of how rehabilitation programmes round the world are starting to get the once-noble species back on track."—Reader's Digest

"This achingly lovely book will resonate with anyone endowed with compassion and curiosity about the workings of animal minds." —Seed Magazine

"Bradshaw has shown that science has now provided us with the knowledge we need to chnage the way we treat other animals, especially those like elephants and cetaceans with complex societies. It is time for humanity to catch up."--Wildlife Activist

Winner of the Gold Medal for the 2009 Book of the Year Award in Psychology category, presented by ForeWord magazine

Received Honorable Mention for the 2010 Green Book Festival Awards in the Animals category

Favorite Science Books of 2009, Scientific American.

Received an honorable mention in the Psychology category of the 2009 PROSE Award, presented by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers.