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The Moon in the Nautilus ShellDiscordant Harmonies Reconsidered$
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Daniel Botkin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199913916

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199913916.001.0001

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date: 23 September 2021

Why the Elephants Died

Why the Elephants Died

Breakdown in the Management of Living Resources

(p.24) (p.25) 2 Why the Elephants Died
The Moon in the Nautilus Shell

Daniel B. Botkin


This chapter explores a number of issues about the management of living resources during most of the twentieth century by focusing on the elephants of Tsavo, the management of fisheries, and the assumptions behind the Marine Mammal Protection Act passed by the US Congress in 1972. It shows that the character of Tsavo, one of Kenya's largest national parks, was the result of three decades of interplay between people and nature. It considers two dominant views about what had happened at Tsavo: the first was what Daphne Sheldrick termed the “natural ecological climax” and the second was dubbed the Janus hypothesis. It looks at a third possibility: that even Tsavo, large as it is, is too small to sustain an elephant population “naturally,” and that the elephants, when subjected to one of the recurrent droughts, would have migrated from Tsavo to another part of Africa. It suggests that direct control of poaching is necessary if elephants are to survive.

Keywords:   elephants, Tsavo, fisheries, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Kenya, nature, Daphne Sheldrick, natural ecological climax, Janus hypothesis, poaching

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