Vivid portrait of an animal that has captured the imagination of humans for millennia Elephas maximus, the majestic Asian elephant, is still revered in Indian religion and culture. Yet, unabated ivory poaching conjures up fears of a future when tuskless males may be all that survive and conservationists are fighting to preserve its endangered habitat as settlements expand. Fascinated by this regal animal and its unique relationship with humankind, Stephen Alter travelled extensively across India to explore its natural home, and its place in history and myth. Alter's search takes him from national parks where he observes elephants in the wild to the annual Sonepur Mela where they are bought and sold, to Kota where they once played a unique role in royal festivals. He charts the elephant in art, religion, folklore and the everyday world of India, bringing to life the complex past and troubled present of this majestic creature while offering hope for its future.