Picks and Pans Review: Secrets of the Savanna

UPDATED 07/03/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/03/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Mark and Delia Owens

When Mark and Delia Owens ventured into Zambia's North Luangwa National Park in the '80s, the Edenic valley was "so rotten with heavily armed poachers and so corrupted with the blood money of elephants that anyone who ventured near it was considered foolhardy, if not ... stupid," writes Alexandra Fuller, the Zambian-raised journalist whose essay introduces the Owenses' book. Still, the naturalists launched an ambitious project to create jobs for poachers—and study the animals who survived. Though their efforts paid off, the couple (whose first book was the bestselling Cry of the Kalahari) received death threats from Zambian officials. Vividly written in alternating chapters by Mark and Delia, their story is thrilling—the kind of tale that wild-animal lovers won't easily forget.

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