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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence - The Elephant Whisperer

review by Ro Bennett live on show 5th July 2012
Recently I was sent this e mail: For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives.The formerly violent, rogue elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the “Elephant Whisperer.”

For two days the herds loitered at Anthony’s rural compound on the vast Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa – to say good-bye to the man they loved. But how did they know he had died? Known for his unique ability to calm traumatized elephants, Anthony had become a legend. He is the author of three books, Babylon Ark, detailing his efforts to rescue the animals at Baghdad Zoo during the Iraqi war, The Last Rhinos - about his battle to save the white rhinos verging on extinction, and his bestselling The Elephant Whisperer.

There are two elephant herds at Thula Thula. According to his son Dylan, both arrived at the Anthony family compound shortly after Anthony’s death. “It must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey.The first herd arrived on Sunday and the second herd, a day later. They all hung around for about two days before making their way back into the bush. ”Elephants have long been known to mourn their dead”.

Well of course reading that I then had to buy the book...and I’m so glad I did as it was an amazing and memorable read.

Here is the Book Description:

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.

I found the whole book extremely interesting. It wasn’t just about the elephants which in itself was captivating, Lawrence’s passion for conservation and his love for all the animals on the reserve came across strongly. Thula Thula is a natural home for amongst other animals, white rhino, Cape buffalo, leopard, hyena, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, crocodile and antelope - so there are countless exciting anecdotes about every day life on the reserve. The reader is introduced to Lawrence’s wife and dogs, the rangers and the local tribes. I held my breath as a raging forest fire swept through the reserve threatening to completely destroy it, I was devastated as poachers killed and mutilated precious animals and threatened the lives of the rangers trying to protect them. The book was brimming with suspense, and heartwarming episodes were interspersed with heart break. A real page turner and an excellent book well worth reading

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