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Vaudevisuals Bookshelf ~ Giants of the Monsoon Forest: Living and Working with Elephants

A journey through the hidden world of elephants and their riders.

High in the mountainous rainforests of Burma and India grow some of the world’s last stands of mature, wild teak. For more than a thousand years, people here have worked with elephants to log these otherwise impassable forests and move people and goods (often illicitly) under cover of the forest canopy. In Giants of the Monsoon Forest, geographer Jacob Shell takes us deep into this strange elephant country to explore the lives of these extraordinarily intelligent creatures.

The relationship between elephant and rider is an intimate one that lasts for many decades. When an elephant is young, he or she is paired with a rider, who is called a mahout. The two might work together their entire lives. Though not bred to work with humans, these elephants can lift and carry logs, save people from mudslides, break logjams in raging rivers, and navigate dense mountain forests with passengers on their backs.

Visiting tiny logging villages and forest camps, Shell describes fascinating characters, both elephant and human―like a heroic elephant named Maggie who saves dozens of British and Burmese refugees during World War II, and an elephant named Pak Chan who sneaks away from the Ho Chi Minh Trail to mate with a partner in a passing herd. We encounter an eloquent colonel in a rebel army in Burma’s Kachin State, whose expertise is smuggling arms and valuable jade via elephant convoy, and several particularly smart elephants, including one who discovers, all on his own, how to use a wood branch as a kind of safety lock when lifting heavy teak logs.

Giants of the Monsoon Forest offers a new perspective on animal intelligence and reveals an unexpected relationship between evolution in the natural world and political struggles in the human one. Shell examines why the complex tradition of working with elephants has endured with Asian elephants, but not with their counterparts in Africa. And he shows us how Asia’s secret forest culture might offer a way to save the elephants. By performing rescues after major floods―as they did in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami―and helping sustainably log Asian forests, humans, and elephants working together can help protect the fragile spaces they both need to survive.32 pages of photographs; 4 maps

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Vaudevisuals interview – “Mother Africa”

Vaudevisuals interview with ‘Mother Africa’.

Mother Africa

Comedian Matt Roper interviews ‘Mother Africa’ vocalist backstage

Do you miss the Big Apple Circus? Well head on over to the New Victory Theater for this amazingly uplifting circus show from Africa.

Here is a visual sample of what to expect. I loved the show!

Stills from today’s show!

2016-12-08mothera_09Rola Bola act was incredible! His balancing skills were great.

Mother Africa at New VictoryThe cast was energetic and positive throughout the entire show!

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Here is the show description from The New Victory:

This holiday season, experience the joyous spirit abundant in MOTHER AFRICA: MY HOME, a circus spectacular set in Cape Town’s largest township, Khayelitsha. Daring acrobats, jubilant dancers and mind-bending contortionists fill the New Victory stage when the sensational Drama Desk-nominated Circus der Sinne (Mother Africa, New Vic 2013) returns to NYC with electrifying live music and feats of extraordinary strength and dazzling skill. With performers representing African nations from Tanzania, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, to South Africa and Ivory Coast, this radiantly rhythmic production exudes a palpable zest for life that will have the whole family on the edge of their seats—or, better yet, dancing in the aisles!

“Exuberant, high-energy entertainment.”The New York Times

I suggest you go see this show. It really is life changing experience.

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For more information and/or tickets go HERE!

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