pinterest, Elephants from the Thula Thula Reserve
In the past several years I have developed a growing fondness for elephants. They are majestic creatures who have a very strong maternal bond with their children and they just are fascinating. Very smart animals! I recently read a book called “The Elephant Whisperer” and I was so intrigued by it and wanted to share it with all of you in case you are looking for a book to read.
It is a true story by Lawrence Anthony. He lived inZululand, South Africa and owned a wildlife reserve, the Thula-Thula Reserve. it consisted of 5000 acres. He was granted the opportunity to save a herd of elephants from death, and he jumped at the chance. Little did he know how his life would be changed. He developed a true bond with the elephants and it really is a powerful story to read. Its not a “how to” understand elephants book , its the simple story of what happens when a man opens his heart to a family of elephants. The things they teach him about loyalty and trust, and about what can happen when you show an animal how much you care. He became known as the “Elephant Whisperer”, but he said it was the elephants that whispered to him, he just learned to listen.
The book is filled with many moving moments, as you see into the heart of certain elephants. Nana is the matriarch of the herd and Lawrence had to win her love and respect first, for the herd followed her. With much patience and dedication he did win Nana over. He describes the first moment that he finally began to feel her trust.
“For a few magnetic moments we connected. I stood a little closer as she moved the tip of her trunk over my t-shirt and then touched me on the head and face. I was completely entranced.”
He hadn’t realized how much he had won her over though until a specific incident occurred.
He had been trying to work with a new, young elephant that had come to the reserve, She had watched her whole family be killed, and she was very scared and angry at humans. She got along wonderfully with the herd of elephants. It was a joy to watch the elephant who at first had acted so scared and shy, now frolic with the other elephants. She was getting used to her new home but she still did not trust Lawrence. He had to be careful of her, for she had tried to charge at him several times, and though she was considered a youngster, she still far outweighed Lawrence.
One time when he was out on the reserve he found himself in danger. He saw the young elephant and the look in her eyes. He knew she was going to charge, and this time he was not close to his vehicle to jump in. His heart was pounding and then, Nana, the matriarch, stepped in.
She stopped her grazing and stepped in front of Lawrence, protecting him with the broadside of her body. The young elephant stumbled back, knocked off course. She meekly swung around and headed back to the herd and Nana went back to grazing like nothing had happened. Lawrence describes his feelings in the words below.
“I stared, barely breathing, pulling body, soul and nerves back together. I had never heard before of a wild elephant blocking the charge of another to protect a human! Nana was radically changing the way I perceived her species.”
The book is filled with moving moments like this and humorous ones as well. How Lawrence and his staff trick some poachers and scare them so badly that they knew they wouldn’t be back. What happens when one thinks a Black Mumba snake got into your house and you can’t find it! Black Mumba snakes are one of the most deadliest snakes’s around.
What happens when there is flooding, your LandRover is stuck in the mud and you aren’t sure where the crocodiles are?
You will feel like you are in Africa, in the bush, walking with the elephants, as you read this. There will be moments that will bring tears of joy and tears of sadness. It really is a story like no other. You will be amazed at the way these elephants think and it will make you wonder again if we humans really are the more intelligent ones!
We hear often of how dogs and cats form bonds with their humans, this is the first book that I ever read about the strong bonds elephants can form. The bull elephant in the herd named Mnumzane grew very close to Lawrence. Every time Lawrence would drive by in his Landrover, Mnumzane would come out to greet him and stand in front of his vehicle while Lawrence rubbed Mnumzane’s trunk and they “talked”. Mnumzane wouldn’t move out of the way until he was ready for Lawrence to leave.
In 2012 Lawrence died of a heart attack. His wife was devastated, but she received a huge surprise after Lawrence died. Two of the elephant herds that Lawrence had saved found their way to his home. They stayed around the house for 2 days mourning the death of their friend.
God gave us such amazing animals, take a journey with Lawrence and get to know this special herd of elephants, you won’t regret it!