The Elephant Whisperer is Wondrous Beyond Words
This is more than just a book it is a spiritual journey that holds your attention until the very end. It is a primer on life taught by the elephants really, as Lawrence Anthony always said it was the elephants who spoke to him, he just listened. (Prologue) Yet this “original herd of seven rogue elephants” whose lives were saved by an amazing (and brave!) conservationist played an important part in saving him, more than once, from imminent death.
Over the years covered in the book, The Elephant Whisperer: My Life With the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony & Graham Spence, that elephant herd of seven doubled in size***. A good start considering they were the first wild elephant herd to settle in the Kwa-Zulu-Natal province of South Africa in more than 100 years.
***By 2012 “…the number had multiplied to twenty-one happy members of a settled pachyderm community”. “A reproducing herd is a sign of a happy herd.” (Afterward) And why wouldn’t the elephants be happy given that Thula Thula provided the perfect environment for “…doing things that contented elephants do such as pulling down whole trees for grazing & wallowing in mudbaths…” p. 351
The blessing was in place for the elephants arrival as that very day the skies opened up and the rains came barreling down (the Zulus believe that any “inaugural occasion” occurring in the midst of rain will be forever blessed) (ch. 3) To say this put a damper on welcoming an “articulated” truckload of angry elephants is putting it mildly. (ch. 3)
In keeping with tradition a Matriarch would lead the elephants; that would be Nana. So it seemed fitting that one human would be chosen by the elephants to communicate with & advocate for them. That human would be Lawrence Anthony. And with poachers always lurking in the midst, he was a good friend & human to have around.
Using his unconventional methods of rehabilitation, which started immediately after the herd had escaped their boma, (shortly after the elephants’ arrival) Lawrence Anthony had made the decision to increase “human contact…and contrary to all advice” he would “go and live with the herd… outside of the boma, of course”. But he would remain with them, give them their food, “talk to them but most importantly, be with them day and night.” (ch. 6) This would be “a last ditch effort” to, once again, save the elephants’ lives. (ch. 6)
This is when “The Elephant Whisperer” was born.
The Legacy of Lawrence Anthony
What began with the purchase of “5000 acres of pristine bush in the heart of Zululand, South Africa” by Lawrence Anthony and Francoise Malby in 1998 (Prologue) would forever evolve into the Thula Thula game reserve which continues to embrace and inspire both humans & wildlife to this day. (Thula Thula, means “peace and tranquility” in Zulu.)
It now serves as part of Lawrence Anthony’s legacy along with the more recent addition of the Royal Zulu Biosphere Project (watch YouTube video here ) which extends Thula Thula’s north west boundary by an additional 3500 hectares / 8648.688 acres. The Mayibuye Game Reserve in Kwa Ximba, a wildlife haven, was also established with a goal of providing income for local tribes people through wildlife tourism. In 2003 Lawrence Anthony, in his dedication “to advancing real solutions to the world’s environmental problems,” founded The Earth Organization.
Lest we not forget the importance of aging bull elephants and the askaris for the future of our elephants, for elephant conservation. Re: The Royal Zulu project. “I have subsequently put the word out… I know that soon we will get a sage patriarch to teach my askaris good manners.” p. 366-367
Of course his greatest gift, to those of us who love elephants, was giving “a herd of troubled wild elephants” a new beginning, a second chance to live. (Prologue)
To be continued: The Elephant Whisperer: My Life With the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence: Book Review Essay Part 2: Team Thula Thula
Purchase The Elephant Whisperer: My Life With the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence through The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization. “Purchasing the book from us, LAEO, helps forward the work we are doing to achieve the goals that Lawrence envisioned.” see Lawrence Anthony’s Elephants
“Lawrence Anthony Legacy” watch YouTube video here
“Thank You Lawrence Antony (sic)” watch YouTube video here
“Lawrence Anthony – CNN Documentary” of the Royal Zulu Biosphere on YouTube here
The Elephant Whisperer YouTube Video “A True South African Story” … sponsored by coronation investments co
The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony & Graham Spence wiki
The Elephant Whisperer book cover (baby elephant) CC Flickr
The Elephant Whisperer elephant herd natalieawilde
The Daily Mail “The Elephant Whisperer:…”
See photo gallery: Lawrence Anthony The Elephant Whisperer at The Guardian
Book: The Elephant Whisperer: My Life With the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence
Read article for updates & see more photos: “Thula Thula’s Royal Zulu dream comes alive”
Thula Thula Exclusive Private Game Reserve facebook
Learn more about Lawrence Anthony, The Elephant Whisperer book & more at the Thula Thula website