Drawing on accounts from India to Africa and California to Tennessee, and on research in neuroscience, psychology, and animal behaviour, G. A. Bradshaw explores the minds, emotions, and lives of elephants. Wars, starvation, mass culls, poaching, and habitat loss have reduced elephant numbers from more than ten million to a few hundred thousand, leaving orphans bereft of the elders who would normally mentor them. As a consequence, traumatized elephants have become aggressive against people, other animals, and even one another; their behaviour is comparable to that of humans who have experienced genocide, other types of violence, and social collapse.
By exploring the elephant mind and experience in the wild and in captivity, Bradshaw bears witness to the breakdown of ancient elephant cultures. All is not lost. People are working to save elephants by rescuing orphaned infants and rehabilitating adult zoo and circus elephants, using the same principles psychologists apply in treating humans who have survived trauma. Bradshaw urges us to support these and other models of elephant recovery and to solve pressing social and environmental crises affecting all animals, human or not.
G. A. Bradshaw is director of the Kerulos Center and president and co-founder of the International Association for Animal Trauma and Recovery. She frequently discusses the psychology of elephants, wildlife, and other animals in the national media, including 20/20 and National Geographic television and magazine. She was featured prominently in the October 2006 New York Times Magazine article "An Elephant Crackup?"
African peoples and wildlife have been bound together in a delicate network of interdependence since ancient times. The arrival of colonialism tore apart these bonds: human brother now fights against elephant brother, and mothers of both species mourn. 'Elephants on the Edge' is an urgent call to end this strife and for humanity to embrace once more the traditions that kept the peace with our animal kin.
- Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M. Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
"Bradshaw brings home to us forcefully what we should have realized long ago: that destroying the family life of highly social, intelligent animals leads inevitably to misery among individual survivors and pathological misbehaviour among the group."
- J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Laureate in Literature, 2003
"At times sad and at times heartwarming, 'Elephants on the Edge' successfully bridges the gap between species. Bradshaw helps us to understand not only elephants, but all animals, including ourselves."
- Peter Singer, author of "Animal Liberation"