The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

elephant whisperer


I must begin by saying that the title of this book does it a bit of disservice. There are so many whisperers around that it is easy to lump this with the rest and not bother to give it a second look. That is exactly what I did until a friend read it and told me that it was really very good. So I got it and read it and now I totally agree with her.

It is a book by and about a conservationist called Lawrence Anthony. He was a white South African who bought a huge stretch of rural Zulu land and turned it into a game reserve called Thula Thula.

He was still in the process of building the reserve when he was asked by a friend if he would consider taking in a herd of wild elephants. These elephants had apparently been mistreated by humans in the past and they had developed a huge amount of anger and mistrust and they had made a habit of attacking humans and every time some one tried to confine them, they would break through the fences and barriers even when they were highly electrified. The African wildlife authorities had decided to put them down and they would unless Anthony could take them in.

He did. They escaped. He brought them back and then he went about learning to communicate with them and trying to gain their trust. It took him a while and he ended up doing a lot of unconventional and sometimes downright stupid things like standing his ground when he was faced by a furiously charging elephant, but soon the elephants began to trust him.

Anthony writes about each of these elephants with such affection and he describes them so well that you soon begin to see them as individuals, each with a fascinating personality…the way they think, the way they communicate with each other…it is truly astonishing. There are plenty of other stories as well about life in the game reserve, dealing with poachers, crocodiles, snakes, the weather, the surrounding villagers and their superstitions that will keep you thoroughly engaged.