The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I chanced upon a reference to the book “The Elephant Whisperer” by Lawrence Anthony (with Graham Spence) while reading an article on the internet. I found the summary interesting and later got the book. It has been a very fascinating and highly recommended read.
The story is about Lawrence Anthony and his experience with a herd of wild elephants. Lawrence owns the Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa. He gets a call one day asking if he is interested in having a herd of wild elephants. These elephants are notorious in breaking away from their sanctuaries and have been so far unmanageable. If he declines, the elephants would be shot. Keen to save the elephants, he accepts to receive them.
In preparation for receiving the elephants, an electrified fence is erected including inspection by forest authorities. The day the elephants arrive, they break out from the fence at night. A search was launched, and they were brought back to the reserve sedated. They make another attempt to escape, but Lawrence comes in front of them, talking to them in a soft tone. The matriarch Nana then backed off from the fence with the rest of the herd following her.
The story from then on is how he gradually wins the trust of the herd. Once the matriarch Nana trusts him, the rest of the herd follows. Over time, the herd multiplies and grows to double the number. There are also challenges from poachers in the vicinity.
There are also stories of their extraordinary intuition. Every time Lawrence returned from a visit somewhere, the elephants used to visit his house to welcome him back without fail. There is also one instance where his return was delayed, and the elephants went back and returned at the exact time he came back! As the elephants settle into their habitat, Lawrence gradually reduces his contact with them, allowing them to be in the wild. They also are at peace and do not mind visitors to the game reserve watching them.
The Elephant Whisperer is a touching story of the amazing capabilities of elephants and the story of how humans can reach out to them. As you read the book, you are drawn to the identity and personality of each of the elephants. Lawrence notes that most of us are under the false belief that effective communication is the sole monopoly of humans. As also the belief that only we are capable of a wide range of emotions. Nothing is far from the truth. He also goes on to say how important preservation is, and not in cages. The best cage is an empty one!
Once I finished reading the book I searched the internet to see if there are more books by the author. I did find a couple and plan to read them including one on how he tries his best to save the animals in the Baghdad zoo during the gulf war.
I also found sadly that Lawrence expired of a heart attack in 2012. However read this and many other similar news items on the internet -> http://www.thefeaturedcreature.com/20.... When Lawrence passed away, the elephants he rescued and nurtured came visting to his house to pay their last respects. They travelled several miles and came in two separate herds, and stayed there for two days solemnly in mourning. According to Anthony’s son, Dylan, both herds arrived at the Anthony family compound shortly after his death (their last visit was several months back).
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