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The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild Paperback – May 22, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
In 1998, prize-winning conservationist Anthony (Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo) purchased Thula Thula, "5,000 acres of pristine bush in the heart of Zululand, South Africa," transforming a rundown hunters' camp (dating to the 19th century) into a wild animal preserve and a center for eco-tourism. In 1999, Anthony agreed to take in a herd of "troubled" wild elephants, the first seen in the area in more than a century. Winning their trust, becoming deeply attached, and even learning how they communicate (deep, rumbling "whispers," sensed rather than heard), Anthony took enormous risks in the form of enraged elephants, distrustful neighbors, and poachers. Over time Anthony succeeds in his larger goal, winning support from the six Zulu tribes whose land borders the reserve ("most Zulus ... had never set eyes on an elephant"); they eventually join Anthony's venture as partners in a larger conservation trust. An inspiring, multifaceted account, Anthony's book offers fascinating insights into the lives of wild elephants in the broader context of Zulu culture in post-Apartheid South Africa. 8 page color photo insert.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Anthony, conservationist and author (Babylon’s Ark, 2007), owns a wildlife reserve in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. A former hunting preserve, rumored to be part of the legendary Shaka’s exclusive hunting territory, it has become a game reserve with a lodge for ecotourists. Home to Zululand’s full suite of wildlife, Thula Thula had everything—except elephants. When he was offered a herd from another game reserve Anthony accepted wholeheartedly, despite the fact that these elephants were known escape artists. During their first night at the park the traumatized elephants broke out, and after days on the run had been given a death sentence by the local wildlife authorities, only averted when the author pleaded for one more chance. The story of how Anthony saved his elephants by making friends with them, reversing their negative perceptions of humans and earning their trust, is both heartwarming and heartening. Life on a game reserve is never easy, particularly when elephants are added to the mix, but Anthony’s enthusiasm and obvious love for the bush shine through in hair-raising, sad, and funny tales. This life with elephants is a real winner. --Nancy Bent --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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So of course I had to buy it! Within a chapter, I was hooked. By the end of the book, I was racing back to Amazon to see what else I could read by Lawrence Anthony. Unfortunately Anthony died of a heart attack in 2012, so his total book count will remain at three, but I will certainly read them all.
More than 1000 Elephant Whisperer reviews precede mine on Amazon, so I'm not going to go into the plot. I will say, however, that I especially like books that walk that fine line of being educational and entertaining at the same time. Lawrence Anthony accomplishes that big time. Even though I've been to Africa and am a wildlife author, I still learned a lot. And the tension and laughter that makes books like The Elephant Whisperer so good are definitely there as well.
If you love wildlife, I highly recommend The Elephant Whisperer. Read it now, and later, I hope you'll read my book too. Lawrence Anthony and I have similar viewpoints on wildlife conservation--and our books will definitely appeal to similar readers as well.
Marty Essen, author of Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents
The one thing that kept occurring to me as I read the book was: what about the people, the natives of this sizable patch of land? I firmly believe in the necessity of preserving the wild habitat, but wonder how this affects the livelihood and culture of those who live there. By livelihood, I don't mean poaching, which I abhor, but accessibility to land on which to make their homes, plant their crops, etc. Anthony did have a respectful relationship with the natives, but I wasn't sure if he regarded them as equals. Having said that, I have to add that, over all, I admire what he's doing and thank him for opening my eyes to a different view of South Africa.