Delia Owens

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Delia Owens (born ca. 1949) is an American author, zoologist, and conservationist. 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 was on the list for 135 weeks in total. 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 Thomasville, Georgia. She and her then-husband, Mark, were biology students at the University of Georgia. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of Georgia and a PhD in animal behavior from the University of California, Davis.

The couple moved to Africa in 1974, traveling before making camp in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana. Cry of the Kalahari was written about the couple's experience there. After they campaigned against the local cattle industry, Botswanan government officials expelled them from the country. The Owenses then settled in North Luangwa National Park, Zambia, and later in Mpika, Zambia, in the early 1990s. Mark Owens has been accused of operating a "shoot to kill" policy against poachers. ABC News aired a report in 1996, entitled "Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story". The report featured the controversial killing of a poacher in Zambia, allegedly committed by Delia's stepson, Christopher. As of 2022 Delia, Christopher and Mark Owens are still wanted in Zambia for questioning. The Owenses have denied the accusations.

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.[citation needed]

Delia and Mark Owens are divorced. For many years, Delia lived in Boundary County, Idaho, twenty miles from Canada; however, in 2019-2020, she moved to a former horse farm near Asheville, North Carolina.

Owens is the co-founder of the Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation in Stone Mountain, Georgia. 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.

Awards and honors