Delia Owens

Delia Owens

Delia Owens (born ca. 1949) is an American author and zoologist. Her debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing topped The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2019 and The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2020 for 32 non-consecutive weeks and on the list for 124 weeks. The book has been on The New York Times Best Seller list for more than two years. She has also written the memoirs Cry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna, with her then-husband, Mark, about their time studying animals in Africa.


Owens grew up in rural Georgia in the 1950s. She and her then-husband, Mark Owens, were students in biology at the University of Georgia. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from the University of California, Davis.

They moved to Africa in 1974, worked in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana, then at the North Luangwa National Park, and later in Mpika, Zambia in the early 1990s. Mark Owens has been accused of operating a "shoot to kill" policy against poachers. ABC aired a report in 1996 entitled "Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story", produced by Andrew Tkach and hosted by Meredith Vieira. The report featured the controversial killing of a poacher in Zambia, allegedly committed by her stepson. Both are wanted in Zambia for questioning. The Owenses have denied the accusations. The family were also accused of having "archaic ideas about Africans", with one critic describing their views as "Nice continent. Pity about the Africans"

Since completing her PhD in Biology she has published her studies of African wildlife behavioral ecology in professional journals, including Nature, the Journal of Mammalogy, Animal Behaviour, and the African Journal of Ecology. She has also contributed articles to Natural History and International Wildlife aimed at a wider audience.

Delia and Mark Owens are divorced. Delia Owens lives in Boundary County, Idaho.

Owens is the co-founder of the Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation in Stone Mountain, GA. She has also worked as a roving editor for International Wildlife, lectured throughout North America, and participated in conservation efforts for the grizzly bear throughout the United States.


  • 1981 — Rolex Award for Enterprise for Kalahari Research Project (with former husband, Mark Owens)
  • 1985 — John Burroughs Award (with Mark Owens)
  • 1993 — University of California Outstanding Alumnus Award
  • 1994 — Ridder of the Golden Ark (Netherlands)



  • Where the Crawdads Sing (2018)


  • Cry of the Kalahari (1984)
  • The Eye of the Elephant (1992)
  • Secrets of the Savanna (2006)

See also

  • Ethology in fiction – animal behavior in fiction, as exemplified by the account in Where the Crawdads Sing


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External links

  • "Elephants Under Fire, Upon Reflection, 1992 UWTV Classics". YouTube. UW Video. 14 February 2014; Marcia Alvar's 1992 interview of Delia OwensCS1 maint: postscript (link)
  • "Delia Owens, "Where the Crawdads Sing"". YouTube. Politics and Prose. 22 September 2019.

Delia Owens