Cleopatra is an elephant and matriarch. The journey is her endeavour to keep her precious family alive against enormous odds.
All the events contained in Cleopatra's Journey take place between 1966 and 1994, a tumultuous period for the region. The most tragic event was the demise of the rhino due to commercial poaching. The same people who killed the rhino went on to decimate the elephant.
Cleopatra's story of survival weaves in and out of these events. The main characters are based on real people. Amanda Stockdale is an ecologist collecting data for a report which will decide the fate of thousands of elephant, in particular Cleopatra, her favourite. Mwenda Mbao is a traditional hunter turned poacher who cannot reconcile his strong traditional beliefs with the demands of commercial poaching. Ben Phiri is his stepson who has no such qualms. Johnnie Pascoe is Amanda's friend and protector. He is a professional hunter who dislikes hunting.
When Amanda presents her report detailing the damage the elephant are causing to the riverine vegetation she never believes she will see ever Cleopatra alive again. The cull that follows her report will destroy her study group and thousands of other elephant. She is faced with a terrible dilemma. How does Cleopatra anticipate the crisis and lead her family to safety? How does Amanda make it back to her camp one night when her attempt to reach the culling camp fails? Much later when Amanda is living in another country Cleopatra arrives unexpectedly. What is it that brings these two old friends together?
Cleopatra's nine hundred mile journey leads her from Zambia to Malawi, then to Zimbabwe, and finally to the Chobe National Park, Botswana.
Iain Macdonald is professeur agrégé in the Department of Philosophy at the Universite de Montreal and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University. He has published in English and French on Hegel, Adorno, and Heidegger and is currently working on a book dealing with the Adorno-Heidegger question. His research focuses on the intersection of epistemology, metaphysics and normativity.