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Recommended Reading

This is a small selection of elephant-related publications.

It does not claim to be comprehensive and the views expressed are not representative of the Kruger National Park as a whole. If you would like to send us a book for review, please contact us. We cannot guarantee that it will end up on this site, but it will certainly become an appreciated part of our staff's educational library.

KNP Elephant Management Plan

Download the Kruger National Park Elephant Management Plan.

Head and Heartaches

The Elephant Management Dilemma

I.J. Whyte, Senior Scientist, Kruger National Park.

Published as:
WHYTE, I.J. (2001).  Headaches and Heartaches - the elephant management dilemma. In: Environmental Ethics: Introductory readings.  Eds. Schmidtz, D & Willot, E.  pp293-305.  New York: Oxford University Press.

Magnificent Seven

Bosman/Hall-Martin: The Magnificent Seven and the other great tuskers of the Kruger National Park, Human & Rousseau, Cape Town, 1994

A beautifully illustrated guide to Kruger's greatest tuskers. Written by the park's Senior Scientist at the time, the text is accompanied by Paul Bosman's world famous paintings and many of his preliminary sketches. Each elephant is introduced and described along with anecdotes of the author and artist's attempts to track them. Short interludes describe related topics such as the annual aerial census of Kruger's elephants or the plants and terrain that these tuskers prefer.

This is a well-constructed and attractive package that describes the great tuskers' temperaments and elephant biology, behaviour and management in general.

African Elephants and the Magnificent Seven, Letaba Elephant Hall, 2005

Please note:

The Magnificent Seven booklet is being reprinted. It will be available as from May 2014. For more information contact

Available from the Letaba Elephant Hall, this short booklet describes the biology and behaviour of elephants as well as show-casing the stories of each of the Magnificent Seven. All proceeds are donated to the Kruger National Park.

Elephants in general

Douglas-Hamilton/Douglas-Hamilton: Among the elephants, Collins, London, 1975

A fast-paced account of Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton's time at Lake Manyara in Tanzania. As the first scientist to study elephant social groups in depth, Douglas-Hamilton advanced our understanding of these animals greatly. He and his wife share their love of the world's largest land mammals with readers while recounting the adventures they had while studying them.

A thrilling insight into a field-scientist's life. The discussions concerning elephant management are as topical today as when this was written thirty years ago.

Leakey: Wildlife Wars, Macmillan, London, 2002

A memoir of Richard Leakey's involvement in Kenya's efforts to protect its elephants. This is a fascinating insight into the political realities of nature conservation, and a saddening summary of the organized illegal ivory trade in the 1980s.

Meredith: The African Elephant – A biography, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2000

An excellent 'elephant primer', covering the history of elephants from 2000BC to the present day. Written in a gentle, accessible style, Meredith guides the reader through key scientific breakthroughs as well as discussing the cultural significance of elephants. Highly recommended.

Moss: Elephant Memories – Thirteen years in the life of an elephant family, Collins 1988

Cynthia Moss introduces us to the elephant families she has know for many years. Mixing semi-fictionalised accounts of elephant behaviour with descriptions of her research work, we gain unrivalled insight into elephant society at the Amboseli National Park in Kenya.

Thornton/Currey: To Save an Elephant – The undercover investigation into the illegal ivory trade, Transworld 1991

The almost unbelieveable tale of two men's mission to bring the reality of the 1980's illegal ivory trade to the world's attention. The exploits of Thornton and Currey's Environmental Investigation Agency read like a James Bond novel; exotic locations, assumed identities, global business intrigue and undeniable risks. A rip-roaring good read with a happy ending.

Mammals in general

Apps: Smithers' Mammals of Southern Africa. A Field Guide, Struik, Cape Town, 2000

Highly informative field guide, providing information on habitat, diet, life history, behaviour and conservation. Includes location maps, tracks and field signs. Descriptions are supported by data from a range of national parks, including Kruger.

Estes: Behaviour Guide to African Mammals, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1991

An in-depth reference on animal behaviour which pulls together a vast range of research in an accessible way. Summarizing physical traits, distribution and ecology, each entry includes extensive descriptions of social organization, communication, reproduction and behaviours. Thoroughly referenced for further study.

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Emergency Hotline

Report rule breakers and other incidents to KNP's Emergency Call Centre on 013 735 4325

Did You Know?

  • Many accounts of the park's early days can be found in the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Library.