The latest of William Grill’s big book explorations of environmental stories from the past is about the exploits of a remarkable elephant in Myanmar in the early twentieth century. This was a time when logging companies used thousands of elephants to drag teak logs from the felling sites to the rivers to be carried downstream to sawmills: work that captive elephants continue to do today. Each elephant is trained, cared for, and ridden at work by an ‘Oozie’, in a relationship that lasts a lifetime. Bandoola’s Oozie was Po Toke and they achieved fame through the writings of James Howard Williams, an Englishman who became a manager for the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation, supervising logging in the teak forests and working with teams of elephants and their oozies. Williams and Po Toke introduced a new, more compassionate, way of training elephants and, during the Second World War, were at work with their elephants in aiding the British military effort in Myanmar. This culminated in a heroic trek across the border into India as the Japanese advanced and the British counterattacked. Williams became widely known as Elephant Bill for these exploits, a name that perhaps echoed that of Buffalo Bill, although Williams was concerned with the capture and useful employment of wild animals rather than his forerunner’s indiscriminate slaughter. In a now familiar mix of text and illustration, varying from small vignettes to atmospheric double-page spreads, Grill not only tells Bandoola’s and Williams’s stories but uses them as the focus of a discission about elephant conservation and the effects of deforestation. Once again, Grill is interested in the complex relationship of humankind and nature, which, while it has been undoubtedly exploitative, also carries the possibility of a mutually beneficial partnership. Once again, Grill has immersed himself in his subject and conveys both the detail and the big picture with knowledge, enthusiasm and thoughtfulness.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Angie Hill http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Angie Hill2022-01-20 08:00:212022-02-01 11:39:56Bandoola: The Great Elephant Rescue