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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 7: Afterward


Graham Spence January 2017: The co-author of The Elephant Whisperer was notified of the passing of his brother-in-law, Lawrence Anthony, in the early morning of 2 March 2012.  And though he had not been in recent good health this “indestructible” conservationist had succumbed to a final heart attack.


Image: RhinoAfrica: RIP:  Thula Thula Elephants : The Elephant Whisperer, Lawrence Anthony’s elephants


But before his death, as a way of weaning his elephant herd of his presence, “as he wanted them to be truly wild,” he stopped all contact with Nana and Frankie and the rest of his elephant family. It was as if he, The Elephant Whisperer, were no longer on this earth. He even failed to “come out to greet them” or acknowledge them in any way (when the elephants made their trek to his and Francoise’s home). In time they accepted their fate and decided to no longer come.

It wasn’t until their human friend and confidante had finally left this earth, through death, that the elephant herd, after staying away for some time, had trekked up to the house again “led by Nana…in an eerie vigil” to pay homage to this great man. Somehow they knew. They knew, as only elephants can.


Image: natalieawilde Thula Thula elephant herd: The Elephant Whisperer, Lawrence Anthony’s elephants


Lawrence Anthony when first offered a rogue elephant herd by Marion Garai of the EMOA: “I was about to say no when something held me back. I have always loved elephants. Not only are they the largest and noblest land creatures on this planet, but they symbolize all that is majestic about Africa. And here, unexpectedly, I was being offered my own herd and a chance to help. Would I ever get an opportunity like this again?” (ch. 1)

Lawrence Anthony on his game reserve: “Thula Thula’s landscape is an elephant’s paradise: woodlands leading to sweet savannah, riverbanks choked with nutritious grasses and waterholes that never run dry even in the bleakest of winters.” (ch. 2)


Image: CC Flickr: fyre mael: Thula Thula elephant in the bush: The Elephant Whisperer, Lawrence Anthony’s elephants


Lawrence Anthony’s elephants had a unique sixth sense. “It soon became obvious that somehow they knew when I was away and when I was coming back.” On their visits to the house: At first Lawrence dismissed it as a “coincidence”. “…they would stand patiently at the wire until I came down and said ‘hello’…waiting expectantly as if part of a reception committee.”

The elephant herd had an uncanny ability of knowing, mid-trek, when Lawrence would not be returning home from a trip as expected     “…It got… well, spooky.” “The herd was on their way up to the house when…they suddenly halted, turned around and retreated into the bush. We later worked out that this happened at exactly the same time as I missed my flight.” (ch. 19 p. 154)


Reflections of a Benevolent Man

“Every wild thing is in tune with its surroundings, awake to its fate and in absolute harmony with the planet. Their attention is focused totally outwards. Humans on the other hand, tend to focus introspectively on their own lives too often, brooding and magnifying problems that the animal kingdom would not waste a millisecond of energy upon. To most people, the magnificent order of the natural world where life and death actually mean something has become unrecognizable.” p. 249


If it is one thing that elephants have, it’s time, large dollops of endless time spent without having to commute to offices like less-privileged mortals. Even when a juicy banquet is on the offer, they don’t rush.” p. 103

“My elephants faced adversity and misfortune in their efforts to survive and they did so resolutely, always looking after their own, always keeping perspective, never forgetting to squeeze in fun and play when they could.” p. 363


Image: CC Flickr: fyre mael: Thula Thula Elephants : The Elephant Whisperer, Lawrence Anthony’s elephants


“…perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that there are no walls between humans and the elephants except those we put up ourselves, and that until we allow not only elephants, but all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.” p. 356


Lawrence Anthony wrote of his elephant herd: “…I cannot visualize a life without them. I don’t want a life without them.” (Prologue)


Image: “Thula Thula Elephant Family Tree” Descendants of Matriarch Nana featured in the book The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence


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: CC dl edu: The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence



The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony & Graham Spence  wiki 

The Elephant Whisperer book cover (baby elephant)  CC Flickr

The Elephant Whisperer book cover (baby elephant II)  CC dl edu

elephant herd & Lawrence Anthony 1950-2012 nataliawilde;  RIP Lawrence Anthony  RhinoAfrica;

elephant in bush & Thula Thula elephants  CC Flickr Fyre Mael group 1 group 2 Elephants Thula Thula

The Daily Mail “The Elephant Whisperer: How Re-Homing a Violent Herd Was the Start of a Unique Relationship Between Man and His Giant Beast

The Daily Mail  “The Elephant Whisperer: Part 2 – the Elephants Come to Tea

See History of Thula Thula in photos here

Thula Thula Elephant Family Tree at Thula Thula website


Source: RhinoAfrica  The Life & Times of Lawrence Anthony, Elephant Whisperer

A Biography of Lawrence Anthony  DionisLim

nataliawilde   Aspirations of a Conservationist

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



Thula Thula YouTube Video  “THULA THULA Elephant Whole Family Parade”  game ranger gives name of each elephant as they walk by!

Eco Safari Tour–Part 1

Eco Safari Tour–Part 2  “Thula Thula (pronounced Toola Toola) means ‘Peace and Tranquility’ and is the perfect name for this extraordinary game reserve.” (2:17 on video)

Lawrence Anthony Tribute” incl funeral clips & interview w/ Lawrence  YouTube Video

Tributes paid to acclaimed conservationist Lawrence Anthony who died last week.” YouTube Video


Image: CC Flickr : book The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence



Thula Thula the private game reserve with “a famous herd of elephants”

Thula Thula – Exclusive Private Game Reserve on Facebook

Lawrence Anthony The Earth Organization


Image: natalieawilde:  Lawrence Anthony 1950-2012   The Elephant Whisperer


Obituary: Lawrence Anthony: Conservationist Who Saved Baghdad Zoo’s Animals by Chris Barron 18 March 2012

Obituary: Lawrence Anthony, Baghdad Zoo Savior, Dies at 61 by Douglas Martin 11 March 2012

Afterward/Update on the Lawrence Anthony’s elephant herd at Thula Thula: A Wondrous Elephant Celebration 2015 photos & video


Lawrence Anthony wikipedia

Thula Thula wikipedia


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

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