The best books about elephants and birds

Who am I?

I've had a life-long passion for birds and African wildlife that developed from a very early age, spending countless hours on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. At various times I've had a totally compulsive obsession for birds and have chased rare and endangered birds around the planet for my long-standing TV series Nikon’s Birding Adventures TV. My love for elephants is equally as strong and I produced an award-winning conservation film in 2018 entitled Last of the Big Tuskers that features the plight of the world’s last remaining 20 or so super-tusker elephants. I'm a conservation fanatic and love exploring the links between local people and wildlife.


I wrote...

When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer

By James Alexander Currie, Bonnie J. Fladung, Margo Gabrielle Damian (illustrator)

Book cover of When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer

What is my book about?

This is a riveting African adventure story told with passion and charm. But as the Zulus say, “There is no river without a shade.” Follow the daring safari of James Currie as his love of birds, fascination with wildlife, and craving for adventure lead him into humorous and life-threatening situations. James captures the essence of what it means to be African today, facing everything from the Big Five to the vestiges of apartheid to the AIDS epidemic. He provides authoritative information on African wildlife and illustrates hair-raising encounters with lions, buffalo, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros, and snakes through exciting and humorous stories.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Last Elephants

James Currie Why did I love this book?

This is one of the most comprehensive books on African elephants I have ever read. It covers a huge variety of topics and is a compilation of stories and studies from a collection of authors, conservationists, and scientists. I particularly like the mixture of personal stories and scientific information. An absolute “must-read” for anyone with a deep interest in elephants and a desire to get involved in their conservation.

By Don Pinnock, Colin Bell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Elephants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Africa-wide Great Elephant Census of 2016 produced shocking findings: a decimated elephant population whose numbers were continuing to plummet. Elephants are killed, on average, every 15-20 minutes - a situation that will see the final demise of these intelligent, extraordinary animals in less than three decades. They are a species in crisis.

This magnificent book offers chapters written by the most prominent people in the realm of conservation and wildlife, among them researchers, conservationists, filmmakers, criminologists, TV personalities and journalists.

Photographs have been selected from among the world's best wildlife photographers, and the passionate Foreword is provided by Prince…


Book cover of Sasol Birds - The Inside Story

James Currie Why did I love this book?

Sasol Birds – The Inside Story is a fantastic book for learning more about the life-histories of southern African bird species. As a life-long safari guide, I am particularly drawn to books that can enhance my ability to interpret nature for my guests. This is simply the best book for intriguing and fascinating stories about birds of southern Africa. I would highly recommend this book for anyone with a keen interest in African birds and also for budding safari guides and naturalists who want to develop their guiding skills to incorporate birds. 

By Rael Loon, Hélène Loon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sasol Birds - The Inside Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At last – a book that goes beyond bird identification and delves into the fascinating and little-known world of bird behaviour and biology. Birds – The Inside Story offers an absorbing insight into the lives of southern African birds, exploring a range of interesting topics that include:
• The mechanisms of flight – did you know that albatrosses can fly thousands of kilometres without flapping their wings?
• Intricate courtship rituals – did you know that some males offer females ‘nuptial gifts’ of food to strengthen the pair bond?
• Nests and nest building – did you know that Sociable…


Book cover of The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild

James Currie Why did I love this book?

The late Lawrence Anthony was not afraid to anthropomorphize about elephants and, if there is one creature on our planet where this could be justified, I think that this is deserving of elephants. This book is about a cross-species relationship between one man, his family, and a herd of elephants. It is witty, funny, and gives a fascinating insight into the fact that although elephants couldn’t look more different to us, it’s quite remarkable how similar they are to us. I would recommend this book to anyone with a love of Africa, its wildlife – particularly elephants – and anyone with a thirst for adventure.

By Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Elephant Whisperer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of "rogue" wild elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, his common sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival: they would be killed if he wouldn't take them. In order to save their lives, Anthony took them in. In the years that followed he became a part of their family. And as he battled to create a bond with the elephants, he came to realize that they had a great deal to teach him about life, loyalty, and freedom.…


Book cover of Life List: A Woman's Quest for the World's Most Amazing Birds

James Currie Why did I love this book?

This is the true story of Phoebe Snetsinger and her bizarre and often dangerous quest to see more birds on the planet than any other human. Her quest to hold the world record for most bird species seen is a great story in itself but it is the way the author delves into Snetsinger’s character and her relationships with her family and others that are equally as fascinating. I love learning about what drives people to have absolute obsessions in life that they place above all else – relationships, health, safety, etc. I have been to many of the locations in the book and seen many of the bird species mentioned as well. The author captures all of this in a fast-paced book that will be loved by birders everywhere and anyone who wants a compelling read about obsession!

By Olivia Gentile,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life List as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After her four kids were nearly grown and she was about to turn 50, Phoebe Snetsinger was told she had less than a year to live. Snetsinger, a St. Louis housewife and avid backyard birder, decided to spend that year traveling the world in search of birds. As it turned out, her doctors were wrong, but Phoebe's passion had been ignited and she spent the next eighteen years crisscrossing the globe recklessly staking out her quarry. En route she contracted malaria in Zambia, nearly fell to her death in Zaire, and was kidnapped and gang raped on the outskirts of…


Book cover of Big Twitch: One Man, One Continent, a Race Against Time - A True Story about Birdwatching

James Currie Why did I love this book?

I love stories about obsessive birding characters, and this is, without doubt, the funniest!! The author details his quest to try and break the annual Australian birding record by seeing more than 700 birds in a year. He drops everything to try and complete this task and runs into incredibly humorous and sometimes unbelievable situations. I love the way the author uses his self-deprecating humor to drive this fascinating story. An excellent read for anyone with a keen interest in birds and a keen sense of humor!

By Sean Dooley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Big Twitch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sean Dooley seems like a well adjusted, functioning member of society but beneath the respectable veneer he harbours a dark secret. He is a hard-core birdwatcher (aka twitcher').Sean takes a year off to try to break the Australian twitching record - he has to see more than 700 birds in twelve months. Travelling the length and breadth of Australia, he stops at nothing in search of this birdwatching Holy Grail, blowing his inheritance, his career prospects and any chance he has of finding a girlfriend.Part confessional, part travelogue, this is a true story about obsession. It's about seeking the meaning…


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Heroes with Chutzpah: 101 True Tales of Jewish Trailblazers, Changemakers & Rebels

By Kerry M. Olitzky, Deborah Bodin Cohen,

Book cover of Heroes with Chutzpah: 101 True Tales of Jewish Trailblazers, Changemakers & Rebels

Kerry M. Olitzky Author Of Heroes with Chutzpah: 101 True Tales of Jewish Trailblazers, Changemakers & Rebels

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Rabbi Academic Practitioner Educator

Kerry's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In Heroes with Chutzpah, readers will meet 101 Jewish changemakers from the recent past and present, who challenged the status quo in the arts, sciences, social justice, sports, and politics. Each one-page biography is accompanied by an original digital portrait. This children’s book about Jewish heroes is inspiring and fun.

Heroes with Chutzpah captures the diversity of the global Jewish community, showcasing Jews of different racial backgrounds, gender and sexual identities, and religious orientations from secular to Orthodox. Instead of focusing exclusively on icons, we included an eclectic mix of both lesser-known and renowned personalities with engaging, inspiring, and meaningful stories that will resonate with children of all backgrounds.

Heroes with Chutzpah: 101 True Tales of Jewish Trailblazers, Changemakers & Rebels

By Kerry M. Olitzky, Deborah Bodin Cohen,

What is this book about?

A young teenager who spoke out for gun control in front of tens of thousands.

An Israeli street artist who painted an ancient city with modern images.

A biotechnologist who led the quest for a Covid vaccine.

In Heroes with Chutzpah, readers will meet 101 Jewish changemakers from the recent past and present, who challenged the status quo in the arts, sciences, social justice, sports and politics. Each one-page biography is accompanied by an original digital portrait. This children's book about Jewish heroes is inspiring and fun.

Heroes with Chutzpah captures the diversity of the global Jewish community, showcasing Jews…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in birds, birdwatching, and the conservation movement?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about birds, birdwatching, and the conservation movement.

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