By Joan Keener
March 23, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Elephant's Secret Sense

Fresh out of grad school, The Elephant’s Secret Sense‘s author, biologist Caitlin O’Connell, lucked into a plum post studying elephants in the Caprivi region of Namibia. While seeking new deterrents for crop-raiding elephants, she saw something that would fuel 14 years of research: Elephants listen through the ground with their limbs. O’Connell conveys the delight of a baby trying to control its undeveloped trunk but ”whacking itself with its limp propeller,” and depicts locals leery of Westerners trying to ”save Africa.” Making up in raw adventure what it lacks in polish, Sense provides a ride as rough and astonishing as the roads of the African floodplain. B+

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