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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

Team Thula Thula


Lawrence Anthony: aka The Elephant Whisperer   

Mkhulu, his Zulu name meant “grandfather but not in the limited Western sense”…as “Zulus venerate maturity” this was definitely seen “as a compliment”. (ch. 4) His first encounter with Francoise. (p. 25) These were “among my favourite animals …the honey badger or ratel … ferocious little warriors…” (p. 251)

Francoise Malby:

fiancée, she later became the wife of Lawrence Anthony. “Tall, graceful and very French” (p. 8) She spoke with “her entrancing French lilt”. (p. 22) “Francoise started converting the spare bedroom, right next to ours, into an elephant nursery...” (p. 319)


Francoise’s little Maltese poodle” … “snow-white…fluffy and soft”. (p. 99) Bijou, meaning “jewel in French… the obligatory accoutrement of almost an entire nation of French women. Bijou enjoyed a privileged life beyond anything Max or Penny ever could hope to aspire to. She had the choice food, even real steak, and slept on the bed between us…” (p. 136) “She prefers carpet to grass, and will not – or cannot sleep on the floor. At Francoise’s insistence she only drinks bottled water.” (” ‘still or sparkling?’ the rangers mock when getting her a drink.”) (p. 241)

In an encounter with a “full grown nyala bull”, in which David could only see in the blur the attacker “ramming its long horns down on her,” he would discover, after taking Bijou into his arms, that instead of a feared bloody wound she had, in effect, “fainted”… all “six inches of her”.

“Today Bijou still struts imperiously indoors but doesn’t go outside much anymore.” (p. 242)

Re: baby elephant Thula  “…Bijou became insanely jealous, constantly barking at the hulk towering up above like the original mouse that roared.”  (p. 325)


Image: Creative Commons natalieawilde: Lawrence Anthony & his wife Francoise holding Bijou



aka Boehringer of Alfa Laval, brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier “40 pounds of brawn and muscle,…he was absolutely fearless…yet an absolute pushover with children.” (p. 39)  “A true bush dog.” (ch. 6)


almost albino-white bull terrier…a couple of years younger than Max” (ch. 5) “She may have been domesticated but she was still savvy to the bush. She was quick, smart… “with the limitless, impossible courage of her breed, she willingly gave her life to protect all that was important to her, all that she loved.” (ch. 27)

David Bozas:

Ranger/ Lawrence Anthony’s “right-hand man”. His nickname in Zulu was Escoro meaning boxer/ fighter. “He was well-built, fit and unafraid, he had a reputation as someone you didn’t want to mess with.” (ch. 11) Lawrence Anthony wrote: “He was a natural leader with a sense of purpose about him that belied his nineteen years.” “A fourth-generation Zululander.” Though “he had no formal gameranger credentials that didn’t worry me. He could do a hard day’s work and was in tune with the natural world, which I have found to be one of the best recommendations for anyone, regardless of vocation….” He had once been “a top rugby player… with a reputation of almost kamikaze tackles. His tenacity would certainly be tested at Thula Thula.” (ch. 2 p. 16)

“Tall and well built with handsome Mediterranean features…he was an integral part of Thula Thula and had been my right-hand man and friend for so long…” He was like “a son” to Lawrence Anthony.  David is off to England again.  (p. 300)

Brendon Whittington Jones:

took over David’s Reserve Manager position (when David briefly left for England. When David returned, “in time,” they became “the closest of friends…so much so that the staff nicknamed them ‘Bravid the clone ranger’. (ch. 21) They agreed that Brendon could “handle the scientific side,” concentrating on “the environmental studies” & David “could have his old job back”. (ch. 21).

He hailed from Cape Town, South Africa with “impressive credentials on paper”. He had a degree in zoology and wildlife management with a major in entomology…” (p. 176) “He also loved animals and his bright attitude and innate sense of fairness quickly won over Francoise and the staff.” (ch. 21) “He was an athletically built young man with a shock of strawberry-blond hair, a slow smile and a deliciously sardonic sense of humor.” (ch. 21)


Image: CC, natalieawilde:  Lawrence Anthony; The Elephant Whisperer with Nana the elephant, with Max, & shaking hands


Nkanyiso Biyela:

my good friend” (ch. 24) “…he had a funeral…reserved for royalty, which would last for weeks. All Zulu chiefs are kings for life, though colonialism degraded the title.” (ch. 24) “Nkosi Biyela was a man of his times, a powerful traditional leader with a foot in both worlds. He had grasped both the value of tested tradition as well as the necessity of modernity.”  (p. 203)


head of Ovambo guards. Would the rumor regarding poaching on Thula Thula turn out to be true?  (ch. 10)


“crocodile in Zulu” (ch. 2) Ngwenya was one of “our best and toughest Zulu rangers” “My security ‘induna’…” “…my senior ranger” (ch. 24)


one of “our best and toughest Zulu rangers” (ch. 2) “a hugely experienced ranger” (ch. 18)            Re: An Encounter With Poachers. “…an excellent man to have with you in a firefight: tough, loyal and ruthless.” (ch. 20)


“A powerfully built man with a steely self assurance…” The ‘guinea-pig’ ranger in the “experimental days… of initiating walking safaris” among the elephants.  He was later “promoted to senior ranger”. (p . 355)


the gardener (ch. 14) see Biyela & the black mamba (ch. 34) Biyela & his umbrella “She had captured our gardener’s heart; from now on it seemed his mission in life was to keep the sun off her frazzled skin.” (ch. 36)


Image: The Daily Mail: Thula Thula members of the elephant herd             The Elephant Whisperer part 1


Dave Cooper:

Umfolozi’s “internationally respected wildlife vet… and good friend” of Lawrence Anthony, “…would be in charge of the welfare of the elephants.” (ch. 6)

Marion Gray:

of the Elephant Managers and Owners Association (EMOA) “a private organization in South Africa that takes an interest in elephant welfare.”  “…She had heard about Thula Thula …and wondered…would I be interested in adopting a herd of elephant?” (p. 9)


a one inch bark spider that imperiously took up residence… on “Landy’s … two way radio aerial.” Many times instead of “starting the vehicle…, the engine’s vibrations…sending Wilma into a flat  panic with the thought of anyone disturbing her “just completed web”,  the men would, mercifully, walk instead. (ch. 9)


an epileptic young warthog, “abandoned as an infant by his mother” adopted by Brendan. …Napoleon soon regarded Brendan as his surrogate mother and even joined him in his bed at night.” (p. 177)



the “trusty old” Land Rover (ch. 1) aka The Elephant Car” So named after years of …”extremely tactile…and hefty jumbos bumped into the vehicle” one too many times. The “crater sized dents” certainly attracted the townspeople’s attention.

The elephants also loved to make playthings out of “anything that protruded on the vehicle“.  So the side mirrors, “radio aerials,”  “windscreen wipers,” not to mention “anything left in the back that was carted off into the bush” didn’t last long. “The elephants must have had a blast with that spare tire. The elephants were also mesmerized with “the texture of the metal” subsequently “spending hours feeling it.”  The heat of the engine fascinated them as well, whether the weather was cold or hot.  (ch. 19)  “The faithful old battered bush-green Landy… (p. 341)

My brand new (white) Land Rover…the bemused insurance company…had never before paid out a claim for an ‘elephant incident.” (p. 349)


“…Gunda Gunda, the onomatopoeic Zulu name for our faithful twenty-year old beast. She was reliable and would do the job but she had no headlights…” (p. 122)


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 3: Meet the Elephants!

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 


Image: Wikipedia. book: The Elephant Whisperer My Life With the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence



The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony & Graham Spence wiki

The Elephant Whisperer book cover (baby elephant) Creative Commons dl edu

Lawrence Anthony with Francoise holding Bijou;  montage Lawrence Anthony aka The Elephant Whisperer, with Max, & shaking hands…  CC natalieawilde

Thula Thula members of the elephant herd The Elephant Whisperer part 1 The Daily Mail

More photos at The Daily Mail  “The Elephant Whisperer:…

More photos at The Daily Mail “The Elephant Whisperer: Part 2…

See photo gallery: “Lawrence Anthony The Elephant Whisperer” at The Guardian



YouTube video: “David Bozas interview


Lawrence Anthony, David  Bozas  The Earth Organization


Image: Creative Commons: dl edu. book: The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence

One thought on “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

  1. Pingback: The Elephant Whisperer: My Life With the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence: Book Review Essay Part 1 : Wondrous Beyond Words | Elephant Spoken Here

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