Enough elephant tusks to fill a thousand ox wagons - that's how much ivory alone was shipped out of Durban bay between the 1820s and the 1880s. It amounted to at least a million kilograms, or a thousand tons, of ivory and represented the slaughter of 20 000 elephants. Piles of elephant tusks were then a common sight at the dockside in Port Natal. But that was not all - rhino horn; buck horn; buffalo, hippo and wildebeest hide; lion, leopard and wildcat skin; as well as live wild animals, all were exported, much coming from the last surviving great African kingdom in southern Africa, Zululand.
The three pillars of the Zululand and Maputaland wilderness were the wild game, the avifauna, particularly game birds, and the indigenous forests. This book charts both the onslaught on them and the efforts made to preserve them from the destruction that seemed imminent and inevitable.
But the book also tells the story of the local African population and their attitudes; it looks at the white and African hunters who pursued the game; and it traces the foundation in the 1890s of the first Zululand game reserves and their struggle for survival against all the odds. Had not the pioneers of Zululand conservation embarked on this early conservation movement, the Zululand wilderness with its tremendous diversity of fauna and flora would have disappeared completely - and with it one of Africa's brightest jewels.