Nkosi Sikelele uAnthony. (Zulu for May God Bless Mr Anthony) and others like him. When the majority of humanity is out to hunt, capture, kill and destroy animals, these people bring the gift of life.
Lawrence Anthony’s game reserve was aptly named Thula Thula. This Zulu and Xhosa word means ‘be calm, be still, be quiet’. An African mother will comfort a crying child with “Thula baba”, don’t fret. All will be well. You are protected and cared for. “Thula, thula”. This is how the animals are treated on the reserve. He writes about the silence of the bush, without city noises, so that the multitudinous sounds of nature can be heard. The “Whisperer”.
Yesterday, my cat brought me the cutest bush baby. It scampered up a curtain, and I spoke it calm, until it went to sleep on the curtain rail. Thula baba. Anthony does this with elephants.
I have the greatest respect and admiration for his incredible courage, patience, perseverance, compassion, understanding, wisdom, and the unconditional love he has for all creatures, as also the sacrifices he makes for them. He gives so much, and knows how to receive. His interaction with the elephants is so beautiful and special. Death, which is very much a part of life in Africa, is described with heartfelt poignancy, particularly the tragic demise of Mnumzaan, the young “rogue” elephant.
For me, the way animals “know” is deeply touching, and is sensitively portrayed in the book . I remembered the time we made a short pit-stop in a reserve. When I turned around my 6 year old child was gone. About to panic, I saw her blithely standing in between the front legs of an enormously tall giraffe. Instinct told me not to go near, but softly call her. Eventually, she ambled towards us, totally unharmed.
Anthony’s life with the elephants is quite extraordinary and forms the core of a wonderful and well-written book. I also loved hearing his other anecdotes, which are so close to home, a normal part of life in the bush. The dogs, veldfires, neighbours, snakes… I’ve visited with the westernised Sangomas with their leather jackets and cell phones, but also those in traditional skins with stuffed lions in their huts. It’s all so warmly familiar. We knew there was a problem with snakes on my son-in-law’s game farm, when a large Kudu bull lay dead in the grass, spiral horns intact. On our next game drive, he suddenly slammed on brakes of his 4x4, and jumped out running with his firearm. After a while, he returned saying “Black Mamba”. Whilst driving, he had seen it sliding down a tree and hoped to shoot it before it disappeared in the long grass.
This brings me to the only parts of the book I found difficult to believe or accept. Nobody I know would walk about unarmed in the bush. Yet, time and again Anthony has no weapon with him. That seems plain foolhardy, with so much to protect and so much unforeseen danger.
I have one more gripe. I think Simon Vance is a brilliant narrator, and I always enjoy listening to him read audiobooks. BUT, the British accent (which tends to go Australian when he tries to sound South African) sounds most colonial. Not a good thing here. It keeps reminding me how awful it was in the past, when those very colonials used hollowed out elephant feet as ashtrays. Horrific. I remember this all too well. I understand that the author’s background was very likely colonial, coming gradually further south from Kenya. But he’d clearly become far more Afrikanised. Surely, Audible, you could find a South African reader? Someone with a plausible accent who can pronounce the English, Afrikaans and Zulu words correctly? That takes my 5 Star rating down to 4.
Just a final word about the reviews, which were interesting to read before I bought the audiobook. A “preserve” involves a jar, food, and eating. A “reserve” is where wild animals are kept in a protected environment. No eating them! But thanks for your lovely comments.
Very good story. If one is to believe the author, elephants have an uncanny sixth sense to know what is happening half a continent away and to know when people are returning from distant travel even though they are unexpected by their family. The elephants become your friends. My wife, who loves animal stories would rate this a strong five stars.
I could not put this book down. I happened upon this book by looking at some reviews when I couldn't find anything that looked interesting to read at the time. Boy, am I glad I picked up this gem. I can't imaging anyone but Simon Vance reading this, he just nailed it! You fall in love with the elephants. I laughed and cried.
I have experienced these amazing creatures in Kruger National Park and two private game reserves in South Africa. I wanted to hear some history.
His performance conveyed empathy; however, his accent was more heavily weighted to British than the rich, lilting South African dialect.
I was overwhelmed by the author's sobering account of the African elephants' plight. He provides insight into the secretive life of the hierarchy within the herd. These sentient beings touched me by their extraordinary familial interactions.
Wow. Broke my heart, filled my heart. Story of a refuge that takes in elephants labeled rogue. But really, it's about a man, his love for African wildlife and living in the bush. It's about the politics, it's about the economy, it's about love, it's about death...fascinating and riveting.
Yes, I really enjoyed the story and Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators. He made the story come alive and the emotions, of the people and the stories of the land and it's difficulties really touched me. I know I missed a few things and will have to listen again.
How Lawrence Anthony fought to save these rogue elephants against all odds and at some points succeeded, and at others he did not. Noting was 100 %. But the story did teach lessons.
As always Simon Vance and his performance is fantastic. I have several books that he has narrated (one of the reasons I got this book)
Yes, but I won't say because it will ruin the story
This was an amazing story and I'd love to hear a follow up about his progress for saving animals in Africa.
This is an excellent book full of real life in the African terrain. Drama so intense sometimes that it could have been a fiction page turner. There were certain parts of the African life that I found unpalatable culturally and also from a Christian perspective but references to these were minute. Anyone can tell that this man loved animals and what he learned from them is masterfully portrayed in this book.
This was an amazing story. I am an animal lover and never knew that elephants were so smart and have such a strong sense of family. I laughed and I cried and I know where I want to go when I get my passport.
Yes. It was so inspiring to hear about this mans life and how he managed to make a difference in the world.
The elephants!! They were so intelligent, gentle and beautiful.
I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.
Lawrence Anthony is the proprietor of a game reserve in Zululand, Africa. The name of the game reserve is Thula Thula. He is asked to take a herd of wild elephants who have been causing numerous problems at another reserve. What determines his decision is the fact that if he doesn't "rescue" them, they will all be put down. He also likes the thought of a challenge.
Lawrence had a way with all animals and he was counting on this to save the elephants from certain death. He knew he had to give it a try.
This is the memoir of a man who loved all animals and was taught by the elephants to become a listener. Lawrence worked long and gently with the elephants and was rewarded with a shared kindness.
This memoir is a good and gentle read. I thought the narrator, Simon Vance, did a great job and made the story flow. The characters were well developed and that included some of the animals. There is humor, warmth and sadness. Listening to the book was a pleasant one. I don't think you would be disappointed if you were to purchase this memoir.
The listener is also provided with some education about Africa, its people and its land. I think the words, do unto others as you would have others do unto you would explain Lawrence Anthony's memoir. Enjoy a great listen.