Abandoned in the jungle of the Nepalese Borderlands, two-year-old Nandu is found living under the protective watch of a pack of wild dogs. From his mysterious beginnings, fate delivers him to the King's elephant stable, where he is raised by unlikely parents-the wise head of the stable, Subba-sahib, and Devi Kali, a fierce and affectionate female elephant.
When the king's government threatens to close the stable, Nandu, now twelve, searches for a way to save his family and community. A risky plan could be the answer. But to succeed, they'll need a great tusker. The future is in Nandu's hands as he sets out to find a bull elephant and bring him back to the Borderlands.
In simple poetic prose, author Eric Dinerstein brings to life Nepal's breathtaking jungle wildlife and rural culture, as seen through the eyes of a young outcast, struggling to find his place in the world.
About the Author
Eric Dinerstein, PhD, attended Northwestern University and Western Washington University and did his graduate studies in wildlife science at the University of Washington. He is the Director of biodiversity and wildlife solutions at Resolve, where he devotes his time to the conservation of wild populations of elephants, rhinos, tigers, and other endangered species. He was previously chief scientist and vice president for conservation science at the World Wildlife Fund for nearly twenty-five years.
Dinerstein began researching tigers in Nepal in 1975 as a Peace Corps volunteer. He later continued fieldwork in the region, studying rhinos and tigers for the Smithsonian Institution. Dinerstein's nonfiction works include The Return of the Unicorns: The Natural History and Conservation of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros; Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations; and The Kingdom of Rarities.
"Eric Dinerstein has a deep love for and understanding of Asian elephants and the threats and problems they face today. You will be fascinated, angered, and charmed in turn by this beautifully written story. And it will, I am sure, inspire many to help those working tirelessly to protect these wonderful animals and their forest habitat. Please read it and share it with others."—Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, founder, the Jane Goodall Institute, and United Nations Messenger of Peace
"What Elephants Know is a blend of Eric Dinerstein's enriching experience of working in Chitwan National Park in Nepal together with his deep knowledge and insight on wildlife biology. This novel well explores tigers and other wildlife in the lush green tropical forest of Nepal on elephant back and will definitely encourage young readers to contribute to wildlife conservation."—Deepak Bohara, Minister of Labor and Employment, and former Minister of Forests, Government of Nepal
"I loved this book, and read it cover to cover, unable to put it down. It is such a refreshing journey into another elephant world, very special to Asia, indeed Nepal, resonant with an afterglow of Mowgli, and Eric Dinerstein's own deep feelings about the jungle, and the people and the wildlife that live there. It will delight all elephants lovers."—Iain Douglas-Hamilton, DPhil, CBE, founder, Save the Elephants, and coauthor of Among the Elephants
"This novel vividly captures the beauty and magic of a wild place and is sure to inspire kids to help save threatened animals on our planet-especially the majestic elephants."—Jennifer Emmett, Vice President, Content, Education & Children?s Media, National Geographic Society
"Eric Dinerstein, a world-class scientist who knows the ecology of the Himalayan region better than almost anyone else, has turned his razor sharp intellect to fiction in his enchanting debut novel, What Elephants Know. His deep knowledge of wild animals, lush landscapes and the rich culture of Nepal permeates through this poignant coming-of-age novel. It's as much fun as bouncing on an elephant back through the swampy tall grass, looking out for the hidden tiger!"—K. Ullas Karanth, Director for Science-Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society
"Now and then a book comes along that no electronic device can compete with, a book that encourages people to go outside and create their own adventures. What Elephants Know is a powerful story full of wonder. Readers won't want to put this book down as they experience Nandu's deep connection to the jungle and all its inhabitants."—Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods
"Elephants, it is said, never forget, but it is certain that if you read this book you will never forget it. Dinerstein takes you on a journey which extends through knowledge and adventure into wisdom."—David W. Macdonald, CBE, Founding Director of WildCRU, Oxford University
"No creature better embodies the delicate, paradoxical relations between humans and the rest of the natural world than the Asian elephant, wild but tamed, faithfully servile but majestic and proud. Eric Dinerstein's book movingly explores that relationship as it plays out in the life of one young boy, Nandu, a proxy for us all."—David Quammen, author of The Song of the Dodo and Spillover
"What Elephants Know is an engrossing and evocative tale. The pages shine with deep understanding of local cultures and the natural world. It is an entrancing journey of the heart, rich in imagination and suffused with compassion for all creatures. Readers of any age will treasure this novel."—George B. Schaller, Panthera and Wildlife Conservation Society
"In this fine book, a lifetime of reality-based wisdom is almost magically distilled into the imagined, yearning voice of a young boy in the jungle, surrounded by elephants and tigers and wild things, facing (as we all do) the great question of where he can fit in so changing a world. It's a totally enchanting, utterly unexpected story for children of all ages."—Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel
"A compelling, lyrical story about how family can be found in unexpected places. Set in the breathtaking jungles and rural culture of Nepal, this is a wonderful read. A beautiful book!"—Melissa de la Cruz, author of Isle of the Lost
"An enchanting adventure into the natural world. This book will awaken young readers, especially, to the beauty and mystery of elephant life and of Nepal and its people. You cannot leave this tale without a renewed passion to help save the planet."—Bruce Babbitt, former United States Secretary of the Interior