Audie Award Winner, Biography/Memoir, 2014
When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony 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 wouldn't take them. In order to save their lives, Anthony took them in. In the years that followed he became a part of their family. And as he battled to create a bond with the elephants, he came to realize that they had a great deal to teach him about life, loyalty, and freedom.
The Elephant Whisperer is a heartwarming, exciting, funny, and sometimes sad account of Anthony's experiences with these huge yet sympathetic creatures. Set against the background of life on an African game reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, it is a delightful book that will appeal to animal lovers and adventurous souls everywhere.
©2009, 2012 Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence (P)2012 Tantor
"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." (Publishers Weekly)
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Lawrence Anthony (17 September 1950-2 March 2012) was a conservationist with the Thula Game Reserve in Zululand, South Africa. He was asked to accept a herd of “rogue” elephants otherwise they would be killed. The elephants had been badly traumatized and would require special care. Apparently he wanted to refuse because of the problems of adding another herd of elephants, but he just could not say no.
The story tells of the bonding with the elephants and becoming part of the herd. Anthony tells interesting anecdotes: some funny, some sad but all educational. He tells how he learned to communicate with the elephants. I send a big thank you to the Zulu people for creating and maintaining this magnificent wild game refuge.
The book is well written and is a highly readable memoir of his life among the exotic animals. The book also provides information about the life and culture of the Zulu people. I read in the newspaper that when Anthony died, the elephants suddenly appeared at his home on the Reserve and spent two days around the house in mourning. I keep wondering how they knew he died. Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators and of course he does his usual excellent job narrating the book.
It was so very heartwarming to journey with the herd of elephants and was
so moved by the connections they made with humans.
I really liked the two main characters, David and Lawrence. They were so gentle with
all animals. I wish everyone was like them.
a journey with elephants
warms your soul
Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.
Such an insight into one of the most intelligent animals in the world. I loved learning about this misfit herd, and what Lawrence Anthony was able to do to save them. Just amazing.
From the opening of this book, you could understand that you were going to have your assumptions about the natural world fundamentally changed. I am so thankful to Mr. Anthony for sharing and Simon Vance for his excellent delivery.
Descriptions of elephant community life
He tells the story with conviction.
I couldn't stop listening. It held me from start to finish.
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
Beautiful writing, beautiful narration and beautiful story. It made me want to go to the Thula Thula Game Preserve in Zululand, South Africa and pay homage. Both young and old will enjoy watching as Lawrence forms friendship bonds with a breeding herd of creative, determined and traumatized wild elephants... and then learns to "hear" and understand them. Got loads of yard work done... cause I didn't want to stop listening. Already added "The Last Rhinos" to my wish list. I want more :).
Oh yes! The story is heart-warming and at times heart-wrenching. And it is all true. Everyone who cares about nature and our place in it should read or listen to this book. And the narration is spot-on perfect.
Mr. Lawrence's dedication to and love for the wild animals of Africa.
Nana, the matriarch elephant, saving Mr. Lawrence from attack by one of her herd's members.
So many! Can't choose just one. I cried when one of the reserves' rhinos was poached. I cried when Mr. Lawrence's faithful dog died. I wish my life had been such that I could have worked alongside him to help protect those wonderful fellow creatures. Instead, I keep myself educated on the state of species preservation, and contribute as much as I can to the cause.
If you don't get this audiobook, you will be depriving yourself of an incomparable experience.
Reader - Writer - KnitterLove romance, mysteries, suspenseful stories with great characters. Especially enjoy series.
Wow, what a surprising story. I loved every minute of it. Not only is it a true story but it's told by a real storyteller. I learned a lot about elephants while laughing and crying with Lawrence Anthony. Anthony's passion for the wildlife of Africa shines through.
Simon Vance was terrific at bringing all the characters in Anthony's narrative to life -- especially the African natives.
The side story of rescuing the animals from the Baghdad Zoo!
After finishing this narrative, I immediately searched for more of Anthony's stories and was happy that another of his books has made its way to Audible (about the endangered White Rhino). I've got my fingers crossed his third book about the animals in the Baghdad Zoo makes its way to Audible.
Anthony was a man of real integrity and I am so glad I read his book. I've recommended this book to so many people since listening to it. An elephant never forgets and I will never forget this story.
Animals are intelligent!
This book reminded me a bit of the Born Free story in subject, as well as the hurdles the author has to face.
I thought his voices were wonderful.
If you think elephants are not intelligent, sentient beings, you'll change your mind after reading this.
I couldn't stop listening. The author obviously has a deep respect for animals, from the stately elephants, all the way down to a little spider. The love and caring that is shown by the author needs to be more prevalent in this world. Well-written, well-read and had me hooked from the beginning.
The Elephant Whisperer is the true story of a Conservationist who started a wildlife preserve in South Africa. Early in the story he is asked to take a herd of dangerous elephants who will otherwise be killed. This is at the heart of the story, although by no means the entire story.
This wildlife preserve, Thula Thula, is a place the author refers to numerous times as “Paradise”. By the end of the book we really feel like it is his own little version of Heaven, replete with glorious sunsets, stretches of untamed earth, and the noble creatures that roam there upon. Nevertheless, it is a paradise without God.
Throughout this entire narrative, we see a man who has made his life’s work that of preserving and protecting the wilds of Africa. Here is a man who so reveres wildlife in all its forms, that he abstains from killing a very dangerous snake, even when it slithers into his bedroom. He would rather walk than move his car, because a spider had created a beautiful web on it that morning. Here also is a man who writes tender accounts of his connection with elephants; this connection is tangible in his rehabilitation of them to accept conditioned human contact.
Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence are gifted storytellers with a Passionate love for Life. Yet, for all of the splendor, and for all of the reverence for creatures great and small, God was the only thing I felt was truly absent in this book. It felt like something was missing, and that was it. To witness all of the beauty and majesty of Africa as detailed in this sincere autobiography, and still not see God, was heartbreaking (if not the turning of a blind eye).
Another stellar performance by Simon Vance.
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.
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