Read The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony Graham Spence Online


When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of 'rogue' elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa, his commonsense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival - notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn't take them. He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be coWhen South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of 'rogue' elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa, his commonsense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival - notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn't take them. He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarch and her baby were shot. The remaining elephants were traumatised, dangerous, and very angry. As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape...As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the elephants and save them from execution, he came to realise that they had a lot to teach him about life, loyalty and freedom. Set against the background of life on the reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, this is a delightful book that will appeal to animal lovers everywhere....

Title : The Elephant Whisperer
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780283070877
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Elephant Whisperer Reviews

  • Marita
    2018-12-06 02:40

    Meet Nana, Frankie, Mnumzane, Mabula, Marula, Nandi and Mandla. In 1999 Lawrence Anthony, wildlife conservationist and owner of Thula Thula(1) in Zululand, South Africa, was asked to take in a herd of troubled elephants. They had been severely traumatised and needed a new home, else they would be shot. Everything had to be arranged and completed within a short period of time in order to save the elephants’ lives, and Mr Anthony was determined to do so. He promptly employed dozens of local labourers to help create the necessary infrastructure. Finally, the big day and the elephants arrived. ”The Zulus who live close to the land have a saying that if it rains on an inaugural occasion, that event will be blessed. For those in step with the natural world, rain is life. That day it didn’t just rain, it bucketed.”It did not all go smoothly and it wasn’t an easy feat to keep them on the right side of the electrified fence. Mr Anthony soon realised that the elephants would need to calm down, accept that this was now their new home and that they were safe. In order to achieve this he spent hours just outside the fence talking to them until he felt the time had come to release them from the holding boma(2) into the rest of the reserve.What follows is a memoir in which there is never a dull moment. Laughter alternates with tears and heart-in-the-mouth moments (“And there we were, a herd of elephants, two huge crocodiles, a dog and a bedraggled sweaty group of men united by the most basic instinct of all – survival.”). The memoir is written with humour and empathy. There is a deep respect for man and nature alike. Mr Anthony was finally accepted by the matriarch of the herd, Nana, and he managed to forge strong ties with them. However, he soon realised that the “friendship” was solely on their terms, and he always kept in mind that they are wild animals and not friendly pets. African elephants are larger than the Asian ones, and unlike their Asian cousins they are not ridden or used to work. Amusingly Mr Anthony’s pachyderm herd also develops a fondness for Landy, the LandRover, and being very tactile animals the vehicle is soon covered in dents with mirrors, aerials and windscreen wipers removed by his large fiends. Unfortunately big game attracts poachers. Magnificent white rhino are killed for their horn to be sold in Asia as an aphrodisiac. Majestic elephants are sought after for their tusks for the despicable ivory trade and vultures are killed so that local sangomas(3) can make muthi(4) from dried vulture brain. This vulture muthi is then put under one’s pillow so that one’s ancestors can whisper winning Lotto numbers into the ears of gullible muthi buyers. Unfortunately only the Sangomas selling the muthi are the winners here. Elimination of poachers is the challenge faced not only by game rangers in Thula Thula, but in the many reserves in that country where animal conservation is of major importance. Some of Mr Anthony’s experiences with poachers are related here. It is a very dangerous business as poachers stop at nothing; arson and heavy calibre guns are both part of the poachers’ arsenal. ”A shootout with poachers is called a ‘contact’, copying military jargon, and it can be as hairy as a war zone. Everybody is armed, it’s dark and both sides are overdosing on adrenalin.”Mr Anthony respected his Zulu neighbours and colleagues, and they in turn respected him, calling him “Mkhulu”(5). He had to tread lightly though, as tribal politics became very complicated. He preferred a neutral stance, but some people tried to implicate him in alleged plots. He wisely deferred to the leaders who gave him a platform to speak and state his case. Mr Anthony teaches us about Zulu culture and mythology. Not only does he teach, but Mr Anthony primarily learns from his experiences. He learns from the elephants, particularly about their incredible ability to communicate, and at the end of the book he summarises what he has learned from them and pays homage to them. There are wonderful descriptions of the South African outback and he mentions for example that Thula Thula has 350 identified species of birds. Later he says: “But it’s not all blood and gore; there are also the brilliant colours and exquisite song in Zululand birds. Plum-coloured starlings, turquoise European rollers that winter with us, the gorgeous bush-shrike, blood-red narina trojans and countless others boasting plumages so flamboyant, the visual feast was unbelievable. Catching sight of a gwala gwala in flight, the only time it flashes its vivid scarlet wing feathers, can send the soul soaring.” Nature is not interfered with on Thula Thula, so animals hunt in their natural manner. When huge deadly snakes appear in his own garden and home they are carefully caught and released in the reserve. Shotguns are on hand, but they are only used in situations of extreme danger to humans.Mr Anthony was not only concerned with conservation in South Africa; together with a colleague he went to Baghdad to save animals at the Baghdad Zoo after the invasion in Iraq. He discusses this briefly in this book, but he wrote Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo , a book about this experience.Lawrence Anthony suffered a heart attack and passed away in 2012. The elephant herd that he had rescued and given a home in 1999 lined up at his homestead for a two day vigil when he died, and apparently each year on the anniversary of his death they arrive once again at the same spot. Mr Anthony’s philosophy was: ”If there is one thing I disapprove of it's the unnatural capture and taming of wild animals, whether an elephant or a bird. To me, the only good cage is an empty cage.”###Notes1. Thula Thula = a private game reserve situated in Kwazulu-Natal province. Thula means 'hush', but here the meaning is 'peace and tranquility', and many a baby has been lulled to sleep with the lullaby known as 'Thula Baba' - Pumeza Matshikiza does a lovely rendition of this.2. Boma = a holding pen where the newly arrived animals could be quarantined3. Sangomas = traditional healers/diviners4. Muthi = ”Muthi is a collective Zulu term given both to magic spells and to the foul-tasting potions prepared by sangomas. It can be good muthi, or bad muthi, the latter always associated with witchcraft.”5. Mkhulu = Grandfather, but in a sense of respected elder###Here is a photo that I took on a visit to a game reserve in the Mpumalanga Province. If you look carefully, you’ll note two baby elephants carefully tucked in between and guarded by the adults.

  • Christina
    2018-12-02 22:56

    I'm starting to get bored with the various "whisperers." Especially since most of them don't do any actual whispering to the animals in question.So I wish this book had a different title.That aside, this is a fantastic book about some of nature's most beautiful and amazing animals. (I LOVE elephants!)Lawrence Anthony runs a nature preserve in South Africa called Thula Thula. One day, he gets a call from someone offering him a herd of nine elephants for the preserve. The herd is apparently "rogue." They hate people. They've escaped several times from their current home. And the matriarch thinks nothing of grabbing an electric wire, and taking the 8,000 volts of electricity long enough to short the wire or tear it down to clear a path for escape. If Anthony refuses to take the elephants, they'll all be shot. So he says yes.By the time the elephants arrive at Thula Thula, the herd is down to seven. Their previous owners shot the matriarch and her baby so they wouldn't "cause any more trouble." (You learn later that it's not the elephants who are the problem.) And the herd hates humans even more than it did before.The elephants escape Thula Thula within 24 hours of their arrival. There's a struggle to recapture them, so that people in nearby villages won't kill them. And when they finally get back to Thula Thula, Anthony has to practically live with them to prevent them from escaping again. He needs to teach them to like (or at least tolerate) people without domesticating them - a difficult balance, but he succeeds.Anthony is then offered another troubled elephant - one who is all alone because the rest of her herd has been shot or sold, and who fears humans. He has to start the process all over again.It's amazing how the elephants change - and how quickly they do.I fell in love with the elephants. I fell in love with Max, Anthony's Staffordshire terrier who has no problem taking on a wild boar or a cobra (he kills the cobra). And I really respect Anthony for his knowledge of the wildlife and his general goodness.If there's anything seriously wrong with this book, I can't find it.

  • Lisa
    2018-12-02 02:38

    If you are interested in animals, nature, true stories of incredible interactions between animals and humans and certain conservation issues that South Africa faces, this is a 10 star read. I read that the author of this book recently passed away and that the elephants he interacted with for many years instinctively traveled a very long way on foot over many, many miles to come and visit him at the place where he passed away.

  • Monty
    2018-12-09 00:53

    I just had to give this book five stars, though four may fit as well. When I read that, after the author died recently, the herd of elephants he befriended traveled many miles to stand near his body, without there being any means of informing them of his death, I was inspired to read this book he published in 2009. I was hooked by the first chapter and wanted more after the last chapter. There is so much to say about how each chapter had its own adventure, some complete with puzzles, tension and excitement. The entire book was informative, not only about elephants, but about other animals, including snakes, vultures, baboons, insects, dogs and more. There was also much to learn about the Zulu culture. The author was remarkable because he would follow his intuition about situations rather than standard advice, often while fearing his actions could bring about his demise. The way he earned the trust of the elephants was amazing. Blah, blah--so read the book already!

  • Trish
    2018-12-01 22:54

    Anthony does a magnificent job of sharing his story of settling a herd of seven wild elephants on his 5,000 acres of bush in Zululand, South Africa. I respect his decision to try to extend the reserve to include the neighboring tribal land so that a greater number of wild animals might live comfortably without interference. The elephants get the credit they deserve for being remarkably intelligent and resilient, despite extremely harsh treatment and bad memories early on. It is a source of great happiness that there are such people working tirelessly to create an environment of inclusion in a world that increasingly seems focused on self-aggrandizement.Nana becomes the troubled herd’s defacto matriarch after the herd’s real matriarch is shot and killed just prior to the herd’s transfer to Thula Thula, Anthony’s game reserve, in 1999. Nana had learned many tricks about escaping from electrified enclosures from her earlier mentor and the herd often worked in concert to outwit their captors. Happily, Anthony seemed to understand that a calming presence and personal connection with the lead elephant could make a difference to the herd’s peace of mind. Slowly, over a period of weeks, he managed to make Nana understand that their new home could be a place of comfort and peace. They stayed and thrived, becoming important members of the reserve’s wildlife bounty.Anthony shares his experiences in words and photos, and tells of difficulties with poachers, local tribal courts, unruly bushrangers, and with the wild elephants themselves. When money gets tight, he is forced to open a tourist lodge to host foreign guests, but does it with customary goodwill and bonhomie.Late in the book, Anthony tells us he and one of his rangers went to Baghdad during the early part of the Iraq War to help save the zoo animals, and wrote a book about the experience called Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo. His ranger then went on to Kabul, Afghanistan, to do the same thing there. The experience of living in the bush with these resourceful folks and animals over the period of time it takes to read the book is wonderfully energizing and one hates to leave their company at the end. One feels quite as though one is losing a friend. Anthony is not simply an elephant whisperer, but fortunately a man who spoke to us, too.Lawrence Anthony died March 2, 2012 at the age of sixty-one. His obituary in The Telegraph of Britain is here. Graham Spence is a journalist and native Zimbabwean who co-wrote three books with Lawrence Anthony. He also writes fiction. A short bio is here.

  • Kathleen
    2018-11-17 05:41

    Wow. Animal lovers, listen up! Awesome narration by Simon Vance. This narration won the Audie Award 2014. 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. The book comes with photos. Some are posted at the author's website: 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 (referred to in the Zulu tongue by a title that sounded like In-koo-loo). He's the inspired owner of Thula Thula Wild Animal Reserve, in Zulu-land, South Africa. I feel like I know him now. 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!

  • Jim Kristofic
    2018-11-22 00:43

    I cried openly the day I found out Steve Irwin died. I’ve always been a naturalist at heart, and I have great respect for those who passionately strive to conserve the animals and plant life of this Earth. After reading Laurence Anthony’s “The Elephant Whisperer,” I was glad to see a kindred spirit to Irwin, alive and daring, working in his native Africa with local Zulus, game rangers, and international conservationists to preserve the powerful – yet fragile – existence of a herd of “rogue” African elephants. After a boyhood in the African bush, Antony sets up his game reserve of Thula Thula. Here, he celebrates the plant and animals in vivid descriptions of their color, form, and raw tenacity to survive. Antony has a similar struggle to keep Thula Thula running. Make no mistake: this book is not just a Walden-esque existential meander with elephants on the side. Anthony is never without his firearm as he and his tough-as-nails and tender-hearted rangers battle poachers, evade lions and leopards in the African night, avoid potential assassinations by land-grabbers, and string and restring and restring hundreds of miles of electric fence to protect the animals from the outside world.By the book’s end, Thula Thula was a sacred place for me. And it was all the more sacred because the will of a dedicated, passionate group of people poured their love into the place. The characters are real. The place is real. The elephants are larger than life. And there are cool dogs. Who couldn’t love that?

  • Una Tiers
    2018-11-26 01:49

    A story, I won't spoil it. Very interesting reports on the smarts elephants have although the story leaves things out that I wanted to know about. The business of side of safaris would have been a plus.It would have been nice to see photos of the animals.

  • Gary
    2018-12-02 23:50

    Lawrence Anthony He left an amazing legacy at the Thula Thula reserve in KwaZulu, Natal, South Africa, , and his work with conservation, and wild animals. This is party recounted in this book. The author's love of the animals here is felt palpably in the pages of the book. It is a memoir that will keep you captivated. We learn of how the elephants would come out in a herd to greet Lawrence, and would actually start their procession when he was on the way back to the reserve. How when his flight was canceled at one point, the elephants actually reversed their procession to greet him. The mourning of the animals for young ones in their herd, the way that elephants herd guided a angry and half-demented bull away from the author and his colleagues, when it was about to charge. also how the author actually used inflections and changes of tone etc to communicate with the elephants, stopping the poised charge of a young female in the herd by saying 'Dont charge-its me"Most amazing is the elephant's communication system through telepathy that stretches from herd to her across the continentAlso insights in to Zulu culture and spirituality, through the connections the author built up with the Zulu people on Thula Thula, who helped him run the reserve, and fight off poachers.Interesting people such as Lawrence's French wife, Fracoise and the intrepid game ranger, David.The accounts you can read of the mourning by the elephants after the passing of Lawrence Anthony, show us how animals have feelings often as deep as that of humans, and their attachments to both other animals and their human friends. And how they grieve the loss of their loved ones.

  • Michael Perkins
    2018-12-02 03:47

    Africa, there’s no place like it on earth. The translucent orange and lavender skies. The thrum of life beneath your feet. The fingers of wind that caress. The giraffes, the lions, the leopards, the cheetahs, the hyenas, the wild dogs, the black rhinos and, of course, the magisterial elephants. Our first stop was Cape Town. The drive from the airport takes you past Cape Flats, a remnant of apartheid that displays small, boxed dwellings that stretch as far as the eye can see, housing the poorest of the poor. In Cape Town, on the water, I think of San Francisco—magnificent gardens, quaint architecture—but with huge Table Mountain looming as the backdrop, instead of the Golden Gate Bridge.South of Cape Town, down the peninsula, takes you to Cape Point, populated by aggressive baboons that just as soon steal your food as look at you. Around the Cape and back north is Boulder Beach, home of Jackass Penguins. Farther north, still, you can see the famous, flying Great Whites that haunt Seal Island. But, most of all, we had come to this land, “beautiful beyond the singing of it” (Alan Paton), to go on safari. This meant a flight north of Cape Town in a small plane to a private game reserve. As the plane touched down on the narrow airstrip and the storks scattered, we felt at once relief and excitement. Upon embarking from the plane, we were greeted by our amiable ranger-guide, Hermann Loubser.After a lovely dinner and then drinks by the fireplace, in the twilight Hermann escorted us, rifle a-ready, to our cabins. For animals in Africa, you see, are most active at dusk and dawn. Tomorrow would be an early day.A startling voice announcing breakfast called from out of the dark. It was the time of day that the Zulus term uvivi, literally meaning “darkest before the dawn.” We struggled out of bed, hair askew, and put on our jeans. We smelled hot coffee and spiced tea as Hermann led us to the food hut. Over rolls and fresh fruit, we could hear Africa begin to stir. The game was afoot. We had a couple minutes to brush our teeth before meeting at the vehicle; showers would have to wait. Our family of four, along with a Dutch family of four from Rotterdam, scrambled on to the large Toyota land rover. The mother and daughter were dressed as if they were going to a dinner party. Hermann drove and was accompanied by a local tracker, who could read any footprint or pile of scat on the trail. Amazingly, she told us that she had never seen the ocean.As the rover rumbled through the bush, we first encountered a pride of lions lying about, obviously full after a recent kill. They looked at us languidly, but it was hard not to feel startled at being so close to these predators out in the open. Hermann explained that we were perceived as being part of one large creature that included the rover, but warned that someday the predators might finally make the distinction between machine and man. I would not want to be around for that moment.Farther into the bush, we saw huge, galloping giraffes that would stop and munch from the tops of trees and, now fortified, bang necks with each other in combat. There were also magnificent martial eagles, with their 7-foot wingspans, on the look out for vervet monkeys they might pluck from tree branches. But it was at a muddy waterhole where we hit the jackpot----a herd of elephants cooling themselves in the shade, a mother elephant constantly pouring the darkened water over her mischievous baby. Elephant herds are matriarchal, led by an alpha female, assisted by a bull male whose job it is to mentor the young males into the social structure. Sadly, poaching and indiscriminate culling often disrupts the structure of herds. Without a matriarch or a bull mentor, the young males can easily turn into rogues that rampage through villages or attack every animal in sight.A later encounter with elephants came in Kruger National Park, northeast of Johannesburg, along the border of Mozambique. In Kruger, we saw hippos (in and out of water), hyenas, cheetahs, and crocodiles. Yet, it was when we were driving down the paved road of Kruger, in another rover, that to our right and left we saw elephants knocking over trees----crack, crack---and then, with amazing dexterity, pick up the fallen fruit and put it into their mouths. Herds of elephants like this can flatten entire forests.But it was the encounter with a massive bull elephant coming straight at us that had even our veteran guide alarmed. This pachyderm was in musth, meaning his testosterone had spiked 60% and he was looking to mate. The ranger pointed out the tell-tale streams of the hormone running from the eyes down each side of the monster’s face. The driver found the first avenue he could use to pull us away from the main road and into the cover of the bush. But elephants are more than muscle machines. They are tremendously intelligent creatures. Our Kruger guide told us the story of coming upon a herd and stopping to watch. Sitting in an elevated seat at the back of the rover was a 10-year old boy with Down’s Syndrome. One of the female ellies, sensing something was different about this child, approached the rover. The guide commanded the passengers to stay perfectly still. The female began to gently pat the boy on the head and then caressed his cheeks and the back of his neck, as if to comfort and heal him, as she might one of her own babies. This went on for about ten minutes, before the female returned to the herd. Elephants are only one of three mammals, other than humans, that can recognize themselves in a mirror. The other two are chimpanzees and dolphins. This mark of intelligence sets them apart from all other animals. Two biologists, Joyce Pool and Petter Granli, who have spent more than 37 years with elephants in the wild, discovered that these creatures have sophisticated communication ability. Through low rumblings in the stomach they not only communicate with the immediate herd, but the sounds can also travel through their feet into the ground and send signals to other herds, up to 10 kilometers away, telling them where a watering hole is located, for example.A curl of the trunk, a step backward, or a fold of the ear are other means to communicate with the herd; and the holding of the trunk periscope-style, to sniff the wind, is a way of detecting approaching danger. Ninety percent of the time these biologists could detect what an elephant would do next. The spreading of the ears, fully, meant an elephant was angry and might charge. There were also humorous mock charges, where elephants would charge the research vehicle, but pretend to trip to stop the charge. Elephants also have palpable emotional intelligence, as shown with the Down’s Syndrome child. If a baby elephant is injured, for example, the whole herd will take care of it. And if one of the herd dies, the elephants will gather around it, mourning, and will return to that spot every year to mourn again.But this sense was taken to an even more extraordinary and inexplicable level in the case of the author of "The Elephant Whisperer" and owner of the Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa. In his book, Lawrence Anthony, recounts the story of how he took in a rogue herd that otherwise was going to be shot. Through a very brave and painstaking process, he befriended the matriarch, Nana, and from there the entire herd, except for one male rogue. Eventually, the elephants morphed into two herds and returned to the wild.But right after Anthony’s death, of a heart attack, an extraordinary thing happened. The herds of elephants, sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn, almost funereal procession for 12 hours through the Zululand bush in order to pay homage at the deceased man’s home on Thula Thula. The surviving human family was more than a little astonished.The herds remained there for 24 hours. As Dr. Seuss might remind us: “an elephant is faithful 100 percent.”

  • Charlene Intriago
    2018-12-10 03:02

    Beautifully written and an easy and engaging read about a herd of rogue elephants taken in by South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony (the author). The elephants are the main story but there is so much more about life in the wilds of Africa to be gleaned from this book. This is the January 2015 discussion book for my book group. Very happy they chose it!

  • Rudy Dalessandro
    2018-11-20 01:07

    One of those stories that's so inspiring, because its a true one, about how we are not the only intelligent life on this rock, and that if we can get a handle on our own selfish needs, we might just be able to listen better, and here when the other earthlings around us communicate with each other, and try to get through to our thick, arrogant, and often ignorant, craniums. Knowing that Lawrence Anthony passed away last year - and that the herd of elephants at his Thula Thula wildlife reserve in KwaZulu Natal province in South Africa had come to pay respects at his home inside the reserve when they realized that he had died - makes this 2009 book all the more poignant. We have lost one of our most gentle fellow citizens, and one of our best interpreters for what the elephants among us thought, felt and wanted to communicate with us. Anthony's was truly a beautiful life, sharing his deep abide for the land and all the Earth's creatures with us, through this page-turning memoir of his life managing a game reserve near one of the Zulu people's most sacred grounds. So, when you think that we are alone in the universe, that there is no other presumed intelligent life "out there," and you're willing to let go of your attachment and ego to homo sapiens arrogant dominance of the planet, read this book, and enjoy feeling good that some among us are willing and capable of communicating, gently, and with deep empathy and understanding, with the other intelligent life forms that already do share the universe, and this rock, with us.

  • Lisa Hagan
    2018-12-14 02:02

    I had the honor and privilege of working with conservationist Lawrence Anthony and co-author Graham Spence on this incredibly moving book. It was our second book together, the previous BABYLON'S ARK: THE INCREDIBLE WAR TIME RESCUE OF THE BAGHDAD ZOO also an amazing book.Lawence was called upon to rescue a rogue herd of elephants, which he did with very little hesitation.It is an touching story about tough man's love and deep connection with these fascinating huge animals. You cannot put this book down and yet you don't want it to end. I loved it. Lawrence left us on March 1, 2012, 62 years old, too young. He will be greatly missed by us and the animals he saved. He was a remarkable man with a terrific sense of humor and joi de vire. I will miss him.

  • Sergio GRANDE films
    2018-12-12 04:03

    Whenever I hear the word 'whisperer' I think of that pretentious gay Chicano conning housewives on TV. He who talks to dogs. This book couldn't be further from that circus."The Elephant Whisperer" follows the life of a hard-working conservationist in South Africa for a couple of years, during which time he establishes a preternatural relationship with a herd of wild African elephants. The story is so human, the anecdotes so touching, and the man-beast relationship so incredibly deep that I recommend it to anyone who has ever loved an animal. Any animal.By the way, the book is very well-written too. I enjoyed the second reading as much as the first one. I would have given it that extra 1/2 star if allowed.

  • Tania
    2018-11-20 07:03

    Such is Africa, the flawed, beautiful, magnificent, beguiling, mystical, unique, life-changing continent... it's seductive charm and charisma, its ancient wisdom so often stained bby unfathomable spasms of blood.What an amazing life, to life your passion, and to really make an impact on the world. Elephants are my favorite animal, and this book just confirmed why that is. I was especially intrigued by the research showing how these animals can communicate across the whole continent. There are also many more lessons on how we can learn to improve our own lives by looking towards wild animals.

  • Laura (Kyahgirl)
    2018-12-13 03:59

    5/5; 5 stars; A+I rarely listen to non-fiction on audio but I am so glad I adhered to my friend Kathleen's recommendation and gave this one a listen. The biography, beautifully narrated by Simon Vance, managed to capture the essence of so many things. Most important of these, the mystery and magnificence of wild elephants. But in addition to that, Anthony's book gives the reader useful insights into conservancy itself, as well as the complexities of recovering from the extensive damage wrought by the apartheid government. The chapters on poaching and gang like activities on the part of people native to the area as well as the tangled up relations amongst all the different types of people trying to make a life in South African was really eye-opening. However, what really endeared this book to me was Lawrence Anthony himself. His utter devotion to the animals under his care and his commitment to understanding them and giving them what they needed to live according to nature's design was really very awe-inspiring. I loved how he wove his personal life and all the important characters on Thula Thula throughout the story. His wife Francoise, and all their various dogs, his many and varied employees and helpers as well as his grown sons. The story wasn't just limited to Anthony's efforts with respect to the elephants. There was also a quite a few detours into all things related to living in South Africa, from dealing with crocs and snakes, to understanding the changing climate with respect to grazing animals and that economy as opposed to wild animals. The last part of the book had some chapters on the rescue efforts at the Baghdad zoo during the height of the war there and some information on the formation of the Earth Organization, dedicated to animals and the earth, caught in the destructive forces of the human race. I would recommend this book to anyone who not only has an interest in Elephants but anyone who just loves to hear an entertaining, heart warming, and mind expanding story about life in another part of the world.

  • Rebecca
    2018-11-26 01:45

    “This is their story. They taught me that all life forms are important to each ther in our common quest for happiness and survival. That there is more to life than just yourself, your own family, or your own kind.” Page 4 * Location 126 (Kindle version) This is a story of a Game Ranger and “his” herd of Elephants. The Elephants are 'delinquent' when they are first brought to Thula Thula Game Reserve located in South Africa. Their delinquency is largely due to the atrocities that have been bestowed on them by the human race e.g. their extended family were hunted for their ivory. The original herd of 7 elephants are lead by their matriarch 'Nana' (as named by Lawrence) who will go to all extremes to ensure her herd is safe and well cared for, including escaping from game reserves. Due to their large size and subsequent fear factor elephants hold, they must be moved from their old reserve to a new one (Thula Thula) or risk being killed or 'put down'.Enter Lawrence Anthony, Game Ranger and Conservationist. He happily agrees to the challenge; and so it starts the beginning of a beautiful and life long friendship between him and “his” herd. Whilst this friendship was not without its fair share of 'trust' issues to start with, eventually through Lawrence's patience, perseverance and the herd's acceptance - they became an integral part of Thula Thula and Lawrence’s life.Having travelled myself to South Africa and witness these majestic creatures in the flesh - in my opinion this book does justice to these magnificent creatures. Lawrence - through his stories - is able to draw the reader a picture of love and devotion not only from human to elephant but vice versa. The last chapter of this book nicely sums up what he has learned from them and to be honest the Human Race has a lot to learn from them. For example, the human race could learn from their loyalty and devotion to one another; their instinct to protect one another; unconditional and unwavering love alongside respect for the 'elders' and towing the line to ensure the herd is able to firstly survive and most importantly (for me) not forgetting those who have passed on. There is a poignant story of a baby elephant who is not able to survive after birth and the “memorial” she is given by her mourning family who would still visit her bones – alluded to almost like an elephant burial ground. Elephants have extraordinary memories and this is shown to us throughout the book.I cried with this book - which for me was a sign that the story was being so well told that I felt the emotion that author was feeling as he wrote.There are other stories of other animals, including the family dogs, and of Zulu traditions/beliefs as well as the project to expand Thula Thula interwoven throughout - ultimately this is a book about the love and devotion between Lawrence and “his” herd - with some lessons along the way for humans to understand the respect these magnificent animals deserve - as well as our protection.

  • Jan
    2018-11-22 01:38

    Don’t let the title sway you from reading this book – this is not about someone who claims to “talk to the animals”. But rather, it is an inspiring story of one man who learns the importance of life while tending to a rogue herd of elephants. Anthony owned a large wildlife reserve in Zuzuland and was asked to take on a troublesome herd of elephants or they would need to be killed. With much thought and trepidation, he agrees to take on this responsibility. We see his relationship with the herd move from fearing that they will kill him to having them understand that he is friend. After his death it has been recorded that these giants instinctively knew when he had died, and on their own make the long journey to pay their respects to a man that they had grown to love and trust. Throughout the narrative we hear of the struggles that are constantly present in the wilds of Africa:poachers, tribal disagreements and the constant battle to keep an important balance between humans and the animals that are both living on the land. There are several very tense situations that arise and not all of them end happily which was sad to read yet unfortunately, the reality of life.What I loved most about this memoir is how Anthony himself gains new insight while observing and living next to these wonderful animals on a daily basis. He actively sees the fundamental significance of “the herd” and the importance of “awareness” being lived out before his eyes. He shares an instance where one of the younger elephants gets separated from the others and after it is returned to the family, all the elephants surround the youngster and touch and pet him, welcoming him back to the fold. I was particularly moved by the following sentences on awareness and perspective:“Wildlife is perpetually aware. Every wild thing is entwined with its surroundings in absolute harmony with the planet. Humans on the other hand tend toward introspection too often, brooding and magnifying problems that the animal world does not spend a millisecond on. The magnificent order of the natural world where life and death actually mean something has become unrecognizable.“We often get so caught up in our daily tasks and problems that we forget what is truly important – we lose this awareness and harmony that Anthony sees in the wild. We must re-learn it by observing the animals around us, taking their wisdom and applying it to our lives. This inspiring book reminds us of this and I am glad that I had the pleasure of reading it. I actually listened to the audio version and really enjoyed the narration and the “telling” of Anthony’s poignant story.

  • Becky
    2018-11-27 03:03

    I greatly regret that I have this on audiobook and did not to get to see the great pictures that everyone is referencing as being part of the book, still, what I lacked in actual photos the author (and the narrator, Simon Vance was wonderful) were able to paint very vivid images of Thula Thula and the herd of escapist, mistreated, rogue elephants that Anthony would eventually win over.There were moments in the book that were so poignant or so beautiful that I refused to put my book down. Some moments that were wonderfully uplifting that you'd feel joyous, Anthony seems like a hell of guy fighting for conservationism and against apartheid, but some moments are so brutal, honest, and heartrending that I sat there listening with tears rolling down my face. We really lost a wonderful voice when he died a few years ago.This book was a triumph in many ways. Anthony had no formal education about the care of elephants; however, he was open to *their* form of communication, he allowed the scared animals the time they needed, ultimately making room for the herd to heal itself in ways that couldn’t have been foreseen. They key to both Anthony's success is raising this herd and in writing this book is that he does not anthropomorphize these animals that he loves. He allows them to be elephants- which is to give them greater credit than most humans do for their ability to feel, communicate, and understand in their own way. Their system does not require translation to a human mode to be correct or worthy. Anthony freely admits that he had to learn their language and also that it is a great shame that these elephants even had to be rescuedfromhumanitybyhumanity. They were capable of being a natural herd before cruel, human interference. The refusal to anthropomorphize the animals brings the story to the reader in a realistic way - nature can be beautiful and ugly, and it is certainly amoral. Anthony sugar coats the process, love, or hardship, and I really appreciate that. Its what city people need to hear. Its what we need to accept to save what is left.I very much look forward to reading Babylon’s Ark, when Anthony went to rescue the animals in the Iraq zoo while it was still very much a war torn area.

  • Jane Stewart
    2018-11-16 06:58

    It’s wonderful. I love stories about unusual relationships, and this is one of the best.But it needs a pdf file for pictures. Pictures are in the physical book, but the audiobook buyers lose out. There are some pictures on the website to the story, this is truth stranger than fiction. It’s wonderful to watch a man talk to angry wild elephants. Emotions are communicated both ways. It shows there are other senses than those we normally think about or accept.The story is what it’s like to run a game preserve in southern Africa. There are problems with employees, poachers, and working with local tribal leaders. And of course problems with the animals. The animals are Lawrence’s family -- his children. There is always some new thing he needs to attend to. But the story is mostly about Lawrence and the elephants. It’s a true story. And it’s fabulous.Too many true stories are depressing with bad things happening to animals. But this is not. The main animal and human characters do not die. There are some animal deaths, but the ending feels good.The audiobook narrator Simon Vance did an excellent job.DATA:Narrative mode: 1st person Lawrence Anthony. Unabridged audiobook length: 10 hrs and 54 mins. Swearing language: none that I recall. Sexual language: none. Setting: 1999 to 2009 southern Africa. Book copyright: 2009. Genre: nonfiction.

  • Lisa
    2018-11-26 22:50

    I was prepared to love this book, given what I had read about the herd visiting the author's home after he died, even though they were three days' journey away. And it is an extraordinary story of one man's passion--even obsession--to save these magnificent beasts from certain death, since they were considered to be rogue and dangerous. I really liked the last quarter of the book, where the storytelling became much more engaging. But the first three quarters? Well, not so much. I remarked to my husband that I wondered how it was possible for such an inherently interesting story to be so dull, and I realized that it was a perfect embodiment of the adage, "show, don't tell." It read as a rather wooden series of anecdotes, rather than a story that allowed me to really experience life on Thula Thula. So it's really the quality of the writing I take issue with, rather than the story itself.But however lifeless the prose, the relationship Anthony had with these elephants was beautiful and moving. He was clearly one of those people who made his life count for something. I'm sure he is missed.

  • ✨Susan✨
    2018-11-25 01:57

    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.

  • Tasha
    2018-11-24 23:55

    I loved this book. The compassion by Anthony towards these elephants was amazing. I will miss reading about the herd and the people involved in their care. This book was full of compasison, love, mystery and adventure. It brings awareness of what amazing creatures elephants are and how it's so important to respect and honor them. What a lucky herd to have been given the chance to live at Thula Thula and to have an advocate on their side when no one else wanted them.

  • LibraryCin
    2018-11-27 06:54

    4.5 starsLawrence Anthony bought a game reserve in South Africa and shortly after, rescued a herd of troublemaking elephants. He was able to calm them down and even befriend them. As the elephants become more well-behaved, his reserve grew with more and more wildlife and stories (good and bad, including poaching, a common threat) on the reserve. I loved most of this! I listened to the audio, and did lose interest a few times, mostly during parts that weren’t about the animals, and I ended up sobbing as I walked from my work to the train listening at the end of the book!

  • Stacy
    2018-11-18 06:43

    It was a little hard for me to get into this book. I was distracted by the two authors. The main author, Lawrence Anthony, is a rugged bushman of South Africa, and his voice is distinctively casual and laced with slang, ie, "I went on walkabout and then hopped in the Landy to find the herd." On the other hand, the co-author, Graham Spence, is a London-based editor. I'm guessing his job was to spruce up the writing and make it a bit more... polished. So whenever the language became descriptive and verbose, I figured that was his editing work.So this strange game of guessing which voice I was reading distracted me in the beginning. But later on, I got really invested in the story, which is more than just talking about elephants, although it was amazing learning about them. (Did you know that elephants have a complex communications with each other by rumbling their stomachs?) Having visited South Africa and toured a game reserve, I was really interested in what he had to say about the business as well as the local Zulu culture. I still can't get over how dangerous this guy's life is. Wild animal attacks, local tribal assassins, poachers, flash floods, hopping over to the Middle East to rescue zoo animals in war-torn countries... I'm amazed he lived to tell this story at all! I'm not ashamed to admit that before the end, I cried. And developed a phobia of black mambas. I'm not cut out for bush life, but thank goodness Lawrence Anthony is.

  • Betty
    2018-11-21 03:50

    Yesterday, it was reported that a trophy Hunter in South Africa was killed by a dying elephant. He and his crew came upon four breeding elephants, shot at three,and were rushed at by the fourth. They shot at her too. As she died, she crushed the leader of the group.The story brought me back to how much I loved this book. It is not a sentimental book about how "sweet" these animals are and it's not a dry book laying out facts about them. Instead, it's about the relationship of one human with elephants whose lives he protected. As he learns about elephants and how they return caring and respect, the reader learns with him.It Is a fascinating and fulfilling adventure, beginning with a group of elephants he transfers to his sanctuary and how they, under the leadership of their dominant female, are determined to return to their original grounds. He brings them back again and again until it is certain that the herd will be wiped outif this behavior does not stop. At night he camps near them, places himself in their path, pleading with the female, asking her to stay, telling her how safe she is where she is, how she has everything she needs there. The herd does stay with him and a beautiful but sometimes difficult relationship develops. I can't recommend this book too highly, there's a lot to be learned from it and none of it is dull.I wrote this review on May 24, 2017, not immediately after reading it.

  • Rex Fuller
    2018-12-04 00:43

    What Lawrence Anthony does is risky. He runs a preserve in Zululand dedicated to saving wildlife. So, you think automatically of the risks the animals themselves present. Heck, you can easily get hurt wrangling cows in America. Where he works, just about anything can kill you, starting with the insects, and including mambas, cobras, hyenas, and, well you get the picture. But there are even greater risks. Remember George Adamson of Born Free and Diane Fossey of Gorillas in the Mist? Humans killed them.Anthony kind of takes it to the limit. When the Iraq War started, he went to Baghdad to save the zoo animals. But that’s another book. This one covers his experience of the first several years with an uncontrollable seven-member elephant herd he said yes to when asked if he wanted them, otherwise they would be destroyed.Without any training or experience with elephants he calmed them down, then set about interacting with them to keep them safe. In the process he learned they are sentient and can communicate in ways far beyond what we imagine. He now believes the elephants taught him, not the other way around.This book convinces you too.

  • Deyanne
    2018-11-22 04:41

    Zululand South Africa....not the setting for my traditional reading; however, I now have a profound respect for the author Lawrence Anthony and I am grateful for more insights into the magnificent elephant world. This book was recommended at a book group as we were struggling for something to read next. We were ready for something nonfiction and this was suggested. Having read Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II, I voted for this. I am glad I did. Anthony portrays a mystical element to elephants that I find intriguing. Their ability to communicate long distances fascinates me. Long known for their devotion to family, the stories interpreted in a human manner (trauma, etc) were also enlightening. Do they mourn? The materials that I have read would support that. Are they indeed traumatized when an elephant dies or is killed? Do they have extra sensory perception regarding people and survival?The author respects elephants and his patience and long suffering in the novel to establish a relationship with his inherited tribe was inspiring. He never gave up. A true conservationist, Anthony genuinely wanted to preserve this herd as he also wanted to preserve almost any living creature on his 5,000 acre reserve. I couldn't live there. Time and time again I thought, "Really? I could never sleep nights in this place." He loved his home. He loved Africa. He loved animals and his life amongst them. I admired him. I admired the Crocodile Dundee experiences that he merely "brushed off" as everyday occurrences. Admittedly, the end had me choked-up. Relationships matter. He created a lasting relationship with these elephants in his life and I respect this man and all that he accomplished. Good read.

  • Barb Middleton
    2018-12-15 03:40

    The elephants steal the show in this book - as the author intended. Lawrence Anthony owns a game reserve called, Thula Thula in South Africa. One day he unexpectedly gets a call asking if he'd accept nine rogue elephants. He's told that if he doesn't accept in two months, they will be shot and killed. He's dealing with other issues such as poachers on his land who are threatened by the prospect of elephants. They cannot poach with those big creatures and they sabotage Anthony's efforts to build a fence. When his workers get shot at the situation gets dangerous and Anthony is forced to solve the problem. The nonstop action and issues make this story sound like it is from the Wild West, not the 1990s. When Anthony finally gets the elephants they are so angry he risks his life to save them. According to the Thula Thula Game Reserve website, not only do the elephants respond to him, they visited his home after his death of a heart attack in 2012. They have returned every year on the day of his death to pay their respects for the past three years. These are amazing animals and this story is a fascinating look into not only running a game reserve, but what local Zulu culture was like, and how humans can communicate with intelligent animals. I highly recommend it.

  • Donnaleigh
    2018-11-22 04:42

    This is a very , very special book. What's unique about it is that this is an animal story told by a conservationist who knows the importance of keeping them in the wild and keeping them feral. Yet, the very impact of man on wildlife has forced the author to make some creative changes in order to save the lives of these magnificent creatures. Constantly striving to create safety and a balance to the elephants and other wildlife, even at the risk of his own life, Lawrence Anthony brings us up close and personal to the thought process of these intelligent lords of the African bush along with the animals that live around them.There is not a dull chapter in this book. The human characters in this true story are richly described and instantly likeable. The culture of the Zululand indigenous tribes are a fascinating study as this white ecologist settles in the midst of Southern post-Apartheid Africa between lands of established tribes. His political interchanges with the tribes and the study of their culture is fascinating, particularly one tense scene where Lawrence is interrogated by tribal members and finds himself greeted by an angry crowd holding war spears. What the Zulu tribes consider culturally and spiritually important is such an interesting study in how different humans are in their approach to the world. This was a great education for me.This was a story that immersed me completely. Much better than having to hear of oppressed animals in a human-forced circus room, the wide expanse of freedom and space that Anthony provides to African wildlife is an inspiring testimony to one man's positive impact on the world. I listened to the audio version of this book through Audible, and the narrator's voice was sublime, a perfect match for the author's words. I knew each day as I stepped in my car for my story and commute that this was sacred time. I'd never again be able to experience this story for the first time like this. That said, it is also a powerful testimony to the negative impact man has on wildlife because of greed and false beliefs that things like rhino horns are an aphrodisiac. Yet really this is just a way to show off the ego and dollar at the expense of our planet. One man's struggle to right this imbalance gives hope that somehow, perhaps people can make a difference through advocacy and education...and hard work.Lastly, Anthony stresses the importance of following one's gut, of heeding intuition, and shared some life-saving experiences because he paid attention to that little niggling tickle in his mind that something was off, even when there were no physical signs around him to affirm that anything might be wrong.This is a strong five stars, a once-in-a-lifetime read that will offer the reader not only a bold spiritual adventure, but it is also a great lesson in wildlife, communication, and our planet's interwoven web of connection. I wish I could read this again for the first time. It was a privilege to experience this story, and I have great admiration for the author and his partner, a spirited French woman who helps him achieve his dreams.In the end, my only disappointment was that it didn't continue. I'd love to read more by this author, a continuation of his life story in the wild. So much adventure happened here that I was amazed at how bland my "civilized" life is compared to the heady drama that happens regularly in the African bush.