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The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild | [Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence]

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild

>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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Kathy Chippewa Falls, WI, United States 02-20-14
    Kathy Chippewa Falls, WI, United States 02-20-14 Member Since 2013

    This is the only way to get through all the books I want to enjoy...and still I'm behind!

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    "Amazing Experience"
    What made the experience of listening to The Elephant Whisperer the most enjoyable?

    The narration, the fact that it felt that I was actually there in Zululand instead of thousands of miles away in a car, in my home. So well documented, warm, humorous, loving, sad and most of all touching. This book was educational without effort.


    What did you like best about this story?

    What was not to like, the whole story was memorable and I would listen to it again for the subtle details I missed. It's so wonderful to know that there are conservationists in the world that are making a concerted effort and a difference to the environment, that is bringing our present world a better place.


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

    Oh, definitely Lawrence Anthony himself. His South African accent, knowledge of Zulu all made everything so easy to picture in my mind. Ooops, gotta watch the road! You get lost in the voice, and know Mr. Anthony is teaching and wanting you to experience and understand more about the elephants and other animals that are in his world.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I laughed at a Disney reference when referring to the elephants in a line, trunk holding onto tale. Sad when all is done to help a baby and yet..... and particularly the way the elephants did understand what was happening in Mr. Anthony's life and came forward to share. Example, the introduction of new babies to him, and they meeting his grandson.


    Any additional comments?

    Oh, this is such a memorable read and it was recommended by my daughter-in-law. I have since recommended everyone who will listen to me to purchase the audio version as somethings just don't work with the written page. I will investigate some of his other books. I did "google" his life. Sad that such a wonderful conservationist left this world on the youngish side, but the legacy and mark he left are truly amazing. Thank you Lawrence Anthony.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 09-17-13
    Jeff Pickering, Ontario, Canada 09-17-13 Member Since 2007

    50yrs old / audible member for 5 yrs library. 75% nonfiction, 15% classics and 10% fiction. History/Science/biography/Eng.18th cent fiction

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    "AN ENJOYABLE WORTHY READ"

    This book was a real departure from my usual fare- and having "whisperer" in the title was yet another hurdle in accepting this book into my ridiculously huge figurative pile of books that are on the go. The fact that once started I never diverted my attention until it was finished really says something for this book.

    I have always had a fascination for elephants. Beyond their remarkable anatomy, their intelligence is legendary. After checking this book out on Goodreads and reading a few reviews I snapped it up and started reading it right away- being exhausted by my usual synapticly intensive reads. The narration was perfect which helped with an immediate immersion into the story. I thought it was well written, balanced and conveyed the atmosphere of this region and its people/culture very well. The story is a very emotional ride and I clung to the story right till the end.

    While It's a great story that ( I think) can be shared by the whole family- It's not the least bit sucky or saccharine. While naming the book the elephant whisperer makes most everyone roll their eyes and plead for the "whispering" to end, it is fitting, and I can understand why this title won in the end, despite what damage this title may do to sales. Don't be put off though- it is a great story and a worthy read. No doubt it will be coming to a theater near you at some time in the not too distant future.

    This may deserve 4 stars but I've learnt to be harder on my rating. For me- 4 stars is a really great book and 5 stars is for a totally outstanding-life changing,"cant stop talking about it" book. 3 stars is-a worthy read, and it is!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Casey Portland, OR, United States 08-13-13
    Casey Portland, OR, United States 08-13-13 Member Since 2010
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    "The Most Amazing Story"
    What made the experience of listening to The Elephant Whisperer the most enjoyable?

    The story was amazing! I am so in love with Thula Thula and how Lawrence has built such an amazing game reserve. The image of this big burly man who runs a game reserve, developing such a tender relationship with a herd of elephants.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Elephant Whisperer?

    Wow, there were so many. I think my favorite moment was when the herd made their way to the lodge and splashed in the pool and almost came all the way into the house to see Lawrence. So sweet!


    What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He made it all seem like a mystery, like anything could happen next. At first I didn't like it, but in the end it was such a delightful book I didn't mind.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When baby Thula passed and they decided to give her body back to the herd.


    Any additional comments?

    Probably one of my most favorite stories of all time! I now must visit Thula Thula in real life!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phyllis United States 01-15-14
    Phyllis United States 01-15-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Elephants? Who knew the depths of these animals?"
    What made the experience of listening to The Elephant Whisperer the most enjoyable?

    We have a wonderful herd of elephants at our local zoological park. Knowing the family ties, it still doesn't even come close to the descriptions given in this story. I felt like I was on the reserve and I knew these magnificent creatures.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The authentic nature of the story telling made me feel as if I were on the reserve watching this herd. The animals had personalities, intelligence and most importantly, felt as if they had souls.


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

    Simon Vance is the bomb of story telling. All of his characters are memorable and I listen to as many of his recordings as I can.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The tragic turn toward the end of the story with a 'lone' elephant was particularly moving. I felt the author's pain during, and most especially later in the story when he discovers the reason behind the behavior of the elephant in question. (Trying to avoid spoilers here.)


    Any additional comments?

    I am a very active reader/listener; consuming 50-60 books a year. This book has moved to number three on my all time best books list. I have already downloaded his later story on rhinos. I can't wait to listen.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AudioAddict 10-28-14
    AudioAddict 10-28-14

    I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!

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    "Wonderful story with an important message"

    STORY (personal memoir) - Lawrence Anthony is "The Elephant Whisperer." He lives in South Africa and runs an animal preserve called Thula Thula. He is persuaded to adopt a herd of rogue elephants to save them from being killed, and he establishes a form of communication with them. Though they still live in the bush and remain wild, he learns from them and earns their respect. They form a strange bond, and his life is forever changed and enriched.

    Much of this story is about the day-to-day running of Thula Thula. Anthony must deal with poachers, fire, Zulu tribal politics, animal attacks and running a preserve teeming with all kinds of creatures. In a place where only the fittest survive, there is the beauty of life but also the sadness of death. I'm an animal lover and must admit to shedding a tear or two, but I'm so very glad I heard this story. I was impressed with Anthony's patience and kindness, and I was amazed by the intelligence of the elephants! The message I take away from this book is one which is mentioned in the beginning, that there is much more to life than yourself, your family and your own kind. Makes me think...

    PERFORMANCE - He does a good job. I liked his African tribal accent.

    OVERALL - I'd recommend this book to everyone except younger children, due to some intense scenes. There is no profanity. Animal lovers who are softies (like me) will cringe and cry a little, but the book is wonderful so don't let that hold you back!

    UPDATE AFTER THE BOOK - Mr. Anthony died in 2012 of a heart attack. According to news articles, two herds of elephants mysteriously traveled for 12 hours to his home shortly after his death. It had been approximately 18 months since their last "visit." They stayed two days, as if paying their respect, and then returned into the bush. Yet another example of the unusual communication and bond Anthony had formed with the elephants.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Bartonville, TX 09-27-14
    Susan Bartonville, TX 09-27-14 Member Since 2012

    Myst/thrillers and ✨fun fantasies✨are my favorites but always open for a good story.  

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    "Precocious Pachyderm"

    A perfectly wonderful, true story of a not so perfect herd of elephant's, who have been broken by poor human behavior and dramatic circumstances. I'm so glad this was not another flowers and butterfly story about wild animals, definitly not Disney. A great adventure into the lives and intelligent minds of these sensitive giants and how they have rules and expectations just like humans.

    I liked this book much better than I ever expected to, substance and amazing integrity made it very easy to become attached to the wonderful couple who took on a dangerous and selfless task.

    The actions and feelings of these majestic creatures were portrayed beautifully and Simon Vance did an exceptional job narrating. I won't soon be forgetting this enchanting, true story of love and generosity of the heart, that was shown to these nobel, complex mammals.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Rochester, NY, United States 09-13-14
    Jan Rochester, NY, United States 09-13-14 Member Since 2011

    Eclectic, avid listener, favorite book is the one currently in ear.

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    "Expected a $3.99 filler book - got new favorite!"

    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 :).

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 09-12-14
    Sam Motes Tampa 09-12-14 Listener Since 2009

    Audible obsessed lifelong learner.

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    "animal lovers safari"

    Full off danger and intrigue and a huge dose of heart as Anthony and his workers strive to save the Elephants and other animals. The tragic story of the baby elephant with the deformed legs was heart wrenching. A great read for any animal lover

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    margie 09-09-14
    margie 09-09-14 Member Since 2014
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    "AWSOME"
    Where does The Elephant Whisperer rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I really didnt think I would like this book very much because this is not normally the kind of book I choose for myself but I was drawn in and amazed at what I learned, both about the elephants and about how a reserve operates and the heart that is put into this kind of place. I have recommended this book many times, to many people (something I dont normally do). I loved this book and am going to read more of Lawrence Anthony.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Elephant Whisperer?

    When he had to shoot his bull elephant because he thought he had gone rouge and how it hurt him so much, and then later to find out it was a bad tusk that was the problem of him going rouge.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but I thought he did an amazing job.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed and cried. This book is very touching.


    Any additional comments?

    I will recommend this book to all my friends, as I already have.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 09-05-14
    Susan 09-05-14

    Skipper

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    "Sublime — one of the best I've heard"

    Wow. Animal lovers, listen up! Awesome narration by Simon Vance. I could listen to him forever. Utterly captivating and heartwarming animal story / memoir.

    This "true" account is absolute joy, even though there are some anxious and sad times. Deeply profound. I felt so good while reading it — never wanted it to end. I cried a bit, too.

    (Be advised, invented spelling -- I've no clue how to spell Zulu names, given the audio format).

    While the main focus is on the supposedly rogue elephant herd, there is much more to this book: fearless family dogs, deadly crocs and snakes, several rhinos, Zulu traditions, uniting five tribal lands, post-Apartheid ravages, assassins and poachers, flooding rivers, raging fires, etc. Never a dull moment.

    Hoorah for Lawrence Anthony, instigator of Thula Thula animal reserve, in Zulu-land, South Africa. He wrote his story without conceit. He seemed grateful for his good fortune and honest about his mistakes. I felt his joy, frustration, anger, and pain. There's some preaching or soap-boxing, but it's minimal and bothered me not at all.

    Lots of love to Nana, the wise old matriarch elephant, and to her fiercely protective sister Frankie. Love to Nanzham the adolescent orphaned bull, and to baby Thula, wrong-footed but right-hearted. Highest regards to my poor traumatized orphaned adolescent girl, ET. Huzzah for all the brave dogs, especially Max and Penny.

    Kudos to the local Zulu chieftain / king and his equally noble son: Oonkosee Bielah and his son Thee-why-Oonkosee-Bielah (no clue how to spell Zulu names).

    Hats off to Françoise, and to the rangers David, Brendan, Bekkah, etc.

    What a book! What a fabulous narrator!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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