Author: Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence, 2009.
Genre: Non-Fiction. Natural History. Africa. Conservation. Memoir.
Other Details: Paperback. 368 pages.
When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of 'rogue' elephants on his reserve at Thula Thula, his commonsense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival - notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn't take them. He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarch and her baby were shot. The remaining elephants were traumatised and very angry. As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape...
As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the elephants and save them from execution, he came to realise that they had a lot to teach him about love, loyalty and freedom. Set against the background of life on the reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, this is a delightful book that will appeal to animal lovers everywhere. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
This memoir has been my out-and-about book for the last couple of months, reading it when I had a chance at the zoo or waiting for appointments and the like. I found it a very informative and inspiring account of Lawrence Anthony's work in Africa, not only with this adopted herd of elephants but dealing with the day-to-day challenges of running a game reserve. As might be expected the biggest issue was poaching, which led to some genuinely frightening confrontations.
There were some heart-breaking moments in the book as well as moving and funny ones. He doesn't sugar-coat the challenges associated with his work. I likely will read his latest (and sadly last) memoir, The Last Rhinos, that continues the story of Thula Thula though think it would be too upsetting to read Babylon's Ark about his work in Iraq during the 2003 invasion. Even the bits he shared here in the last chapters were inspiring but painful to read.
I was sad to read that Lawrence Anthony died in 2012 though his legacy continues at Thula Thula and with The Earth Organisation that he founded.
'The Elephant Whisperer' Official Website includes background and links to Thula Thula.