The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild is a phenomenal account of animal conservation in South Africa. “Lawrence Anthony devoted his life to protecting the world’s endangered species. Then, he was asked to accept a herd of ‘rogue’ wild elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand. His common sense told him to refuse, but he was the herd’s last chance of survival: they would be killed, if he didn’t take them.”
This graphic story about the elephant world is captivating. It’s an education on the behavioral characteristics of wild elephants, poaching, interesting Zulu traditions and superstitions – imimoya emibi (evil spirits), muthi (traditional tribal medicine), Ovombo tribesmen, sangomas (herbalists) – and interaction between animals and humans in the deep South African bush.
Thula Thula is near famous Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park in Mpumalanga Province (“place where the sun rises” in Zulu). Hluhluwe Imfolozi is on the outskirts of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal Province. I frequented Imfolozi during a 2017 stay in the Province. The park is “world renowned for its animal conservation efforts”. In the past, the reserve was Zulu King Shaka’s private hunting grounds. Today, it has the “largest population of white rhino in the world”.
“One of the best aspects of The Elephant Whisperer is the way Anthony describes his perspective, his efforts in understanding and communicating with the herd, and creates a meaningful bond with the wild elephants in a way not well documented previously.” Poaching Facts
The history, emotions, challenges, and escapades of these sensitive, intelligent creatures are a lesson for all. The bond that develops among the wild elephant herd – matriarch Nana, dominant bull Numzaan, Mabula, Marula, Mandla, Nandi, Franki, Indodana, ET, Thula – and Anthony, his like-minded associates, and reserve staff is inspiring. I highly recommend this book!