The elephant population is declining, despite effort on the continent to stem the tide. Many resources are being pulled to fight against the poachers and the big business behind them.
In this book, written for young people, we get a look into the world of elephants and the world of poaching and the tourism trade.
Let us have a look at the main characters. First I want to name Papa Tembo, the old and wise and solitary elephant. Next we find the Blake family (father John, son Matthew and daughter Alison). There is Taylor who runs a safari company and Johnson who is his client and this man wants to take action against poaching. Last but not least is Laurens van der Wel, the vicious large scale poacher. The setting is the Serengeti.
When Van der Wel was young he was wounded by an elephant and his whole long life he tries to kill this elephant, who escapes all attention. Whenever he hears a rumour about the place where Papa Tembo has been spotted he moves out to have a chance to kill this elephant. John Blake has been monitoring elephants for many years and he want to approach elephants and describe them in a scientific way. His children stay with him during holidays for the y attend school in the United Kingdom. Taylor is reluctant to go after Van der Wel and the elephant, but he is being pushed by his well paying client from the United States.
The way papa Tembo is being portrayed in relation with other elephants and with human being enhances the idea (fiction) of special qualities that the elephant has, a kind of extra sensory gifts.
The books shows the beauty of wildlife and the world of Serengeti and the mysterious elephant. White people (wazungu) flock the pages of this novel, they have names. One Tanzanian, the driver of Taylor, has the name Benny. All the other Tanzanians seems to live without a name. Vulcanoes however do have names. The young girl Alison becomes the heroine of the story, with her special relationship with the solitary elephant.
The story has been written with speed. It is informative and exiting. There is no map of the Serengeti and surrounding areas in the book, so if you are not familiar with the area just have a look at Maps or any other map.
Eric Campbell – Elephant gold – 1997