Review: BBC One – Attenborough and the Giant Elephant

An African elephant at home - photograph taken by Frederik Ahlefeldt-L-L

An African elephant at home – photograph taken by Frederik Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Lehn

This powerful documentary is about a giant and those who knew him. It is fascinating, sad … and so important to watch.

Sir David Attenborough is with us from start to finish. It is he who picks through the evidence to show us the life and times of Jumbo, the celebrity Victorian elephant.

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Review of Naples ’44 – Francesco Patierno’s film of the book by Norman Lewis

 

Naples, Itlay

Naples, Italy

This film, a collage of memory and story, nightmare and fact, holds high the war-shattered image of Naples. It takes us amongst the ruins to show us desperate lives caught up in battle and destruction.

We are not asked to pity or excuse … only to understand, and to witness the consequences of a year of war in a city targeted for its strategic importance.

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In Search of Ancient North Africa (A History in Six Lives) by Barnaby Rogerson

In Search of Ancient North Africa (A History in Six Lives) by Barnaby Rogerson

In Search of Ancient North Africa (A History in Six Lives) by Barnaby Rogerson

“And though the world’s population keeps expanding, the number of individuals who know the stories of their own lands diminishes every year.”
              Barnaby Rogerson in the introduction to In Search of Ancient North Africa     

This is a book about forgotten origins and outcomes. Through six lives it shows us legends, families, survival, and the importance of memory. It gives the north of Africa a fresh polish.

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The Sultan’s Elephant in London – a true story

This is about an elephant that came to the streets of London in search of a little girl. It happened in 2006 and I wrote about it in 2015. It’s a tale about wonder where you least expect it … and about the power of elephants.

The Phraser

The Sultan's Elephant in London ‘The Sultan’s Elephant’ by Royal de Luxe, produced in London in 2006 by Artichoke. Photo copyright Sophie Laslett.

It all began on one of those long weekends when no-one was looking.  To start with it was just an ordinary, empty day – too busy to see.

Then, suddenly, people started to hear things, they started to wonder … because … wasn’t that … did they really hear an elephant in London?

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The Struggle Continues – 50 years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe (by David Coltart)

The Struggle Continues - 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart

The Struggle Continues – 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart

This is a tale of stubborn politics, war, courage, resilience, legal challenge, and hope. It tells of the evolution of a young democracy, and the consequences of decisions that have shaped that process.

The author, David Coltart, born and raised in Zimbabwe, is an experienced lawyer and politician who still lives in the country. He writes with a style that is clear and controlled, one that allows the subject to reveal itself.

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Zimbabwe’s elephants – wanted dead or alive

This began as a reblog of an old post – it has turned into a new one about a situation that continues to haunt me … the on-going sale of Zimbabwe’s wild, young elephants to distant zoos and tourist parks.

The Phraser

Zimbabwe's elephants Zimbabwe’s elephants

Elephants, the big-eared nomads of Africa, are in trouble. They are squeezed for space, many are slain for ivory, and others are sold into captivity.

Zimbabwe, in southern Africa, is blessed with large herds of elephants, some of the happiest on the continent … but there is danger, both from poaching and live export. The elephants are up for sale and buyers are waiting.

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Baby elephants: made in Africa – exported to China

Today, some of Zimbabwe’s wild, young elephants face export to zoos in China. It was the same four years ago, in 2013. This is a reblog of a piece I wrote at the time, with links to recent Guardian reports on the situation today. Nothing much has changed.

The Phraser

Picture courtesy of China Zoo Watch Picture courtesy of China Zoo Watch

Wild baby elephants (Loxodonta africana africana), born amongst the acacias of Zimbabwe, are being sold to zoos in China by the Zimbabwean authorities.

In 2012 four baby elephants, one of whom is already dead, were transported to China and it is believed that more are due to follow shortly.

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