Book review – A whacking good bush tale

2012-11-24 16:33

Battle for the President’s Elephants: Life, Lunacy and Elation in the African Bush by Sharon Pincott, Jacana, 208 pages, R175.

Imagine leaving a high-powered life behind in Australia and moving to the boendoes to become an elephant whisperer ... in Zimbabwe of all places.

But Aussie Sharon Pincott has found happiness in the wilderness for the past 10 years among her beloved presidential elephants despite battling scorpions, snakes and, of course, politics.

In her first book, The Elephants and I, she described her struggles with politics, poachers, and other human enemies in her quest to protect Zimbabwe’s Presidential Elephants – a bunch of about 450 elephants with special status.

Her second book, Battle for the President’s Elephants: Life, Lunacy & Elation in the African Bush, while still documenting her struggles against the Zimbabwe bureaucracy and poachers, also deals with her often humorous attempts to create a new home for herself in Zimbabwe, while battling wildlife invaders as well as human ones.

Pincott’s life is not an easy one.

As an Australian rocking the boat, she inadvertently ends up on a Zimbabwe police wanted-persons list, while also being accused of being a spy.

In the midst of these troubles, her love for the elephants shines through in the intimate descriptions of her time with the elephants and how the matriarchs in the family become as close as daughters or mothers to her.

Pincott’s deep love for the elephants will overwhelm you, against the backdrop of the mortal danger she sometimes faces.

And if the Zimbabwe spy-trouble is not enough, back at home she lose everything during the Australian floods of 2011.

Despite this, Pincott carries on, believing the light at the end of the tunnel is just around the corner.

She is a passionate, even fanatic conservationist or even crusader, and her adventures in the so-often Wild West of Zimbabwe will leave you gaping.

But for all her hardships in Zimbabwe, she has also come to love the country and its people, and most of all the elephants.

A great read for a December holiday in the bush, while the animals saunter to the watering hole.


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