Love, Life, and Elephants

  • by Daphne Sheldrick
  • Narrated by Virginia McKenna
  • 14 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Daphne Sheldrick, whose family arrived in Africa from Scotland in the 1820s, is the first person ever to have successfully hand-reared newborn elephants. Her deep empathy and understanding, her years of observing Kenya’s rich variety of wildlife, and her pioneering work in perfecting the right husbandry and milk formula have saved countless elephants, rhinos, and other baby animals from certain death.
In this heartwarming and poignant memoir, Daphne shares her amazing relationships with a host of orphans, including her first love, Bushy, a liquid-eyed antelope; Rickey-Tickey-Tavey, the little dwarf mongoose; Gregory Peck, the busy buffalo weaver bird; Huppety, the mischievous zebra; and the majestic elephant Eleanor, with whom Daphne has shared more than forty years of great friendship.
But this is also a magical and heartbreaking human love story between Daphne and David Sheldrick, the famous Tsavo Park warden. It was their deep and passionate love, David’s extraordinary insight into all aspects of nature, and the tragedy of his early death that inspired Daphne’s vast array of achievements, most notably the founding of the world-renowned David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Orphans’ Nursery in Nairobi National Park, where Daphne continues to live and work to this day.
Encompassing not only David and Daphne’s tireless campaign for an end to poaching and for conserving Kenya’s wildlife, but also their ability to engage with the human side of animals and their rearing of the orphans expressly so they can return to the wild, Love, Life, and Elephants is alive with compassion and humor, providing a rare insight into the life of one of the world’s most remarkable women.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Bummer of a book.

I’m going to be real, I gave up on this book after dragging myself through 11 hours of the 14 hour long audiobook. My breaking point came when – shocker! – the millionth animal struggling to survive under Daphne’s care, or trying to survive in the wild after leaving her care, dies.

I love animals, and I want to love people’s heart-warming stories of living with animals. I like the idea of these stories. I like my own life, lived with two cats. I worked at the Humane Society and fell under the spell of fluffy unfortunates on the daily. But here’s the deal: I can’t get through these books. The quirky Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte, the kitschily titled book about the PTSD dude with a dog, this dame’s adventures interfering with wildlife after her people (she greatly regrets) fail to colonize Africa. I find these books sweet and mildly irritating and vaguely un-notable. I think Daphne’s descriptions and view of the jungle as enchanting and full of delight is beautifully expressed, and I’d love for her to write a fiction novel that focuses more on people and events in that sort of rare environment – I’d find that intriguing.

I also do find a bit of her cultural belief system the elephant (ha! obvious pun there) in the room. At one point she talks of how she fears a one vote per one person system for an independent Kenya, stating this would give Africans a majority vote over whites. The concept of someone publicly believing Africans should receive less of a vote than white settlers based on skin color is so offensive/racist it made me question if I should have purchased the book at all. On a more debatable thought level than every human being equal to one vote, her husband devotes himself to ending poaching in their area only to be confronted with ideas of overpopulation and arguments for culling. I wonder if this “we know best” attitude of cultural interference is healthy for anyone – the wildlife they have decided needs saving, the indigenous people whose ways of life they have decided to interfere with, etc.

As a final note, this was read by the author. This rarely works and always disappoints me. Daphne Sheldrick is now an older woman, telling the stories of a younger one. It was harder for me to get over the older voice – like I was being told a bedtime story of a yesteryear, the bygone days that I’m sure Sheldrick pines for. I think a younger narrator may have suited the story better.
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- Kali

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-08-2012
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio