On 2nd March 2012, The Elephant Whisperer, Lawrence Anthony, passed away from a heart attack at his home in Zimbabwe. He was 61.
After the American Invasion in 2003, Anthony made an impassioned and dangerous trip to Iraq that resulted in him rescuing many of the surviving animals at Baghdad Zoo. He also rescued the lions and tiger pets of Saddam Hussein.
During his life, Anthony was conservationist and founder of the Earth Society. He created two wildlife sanctuaries including a 5,000 acre Thula Thula Reserve in Zululand.
It was here that Anthony saved a group of troublesome wild elephants from being killed. Known as a nuisance herd, one of the mothers and a baby elephant had already been shot and killed, a scene that had been witnessed by the herd who were traumatised, fearful and furiously angry with humans.
Anthony took them to Thula Thula, unhopeful that they would stay. To begin, there had been escape attempts, one of which landed the herd into the hands of armed poachers and very nearly ended in another fatal human interaction. Managing to coax them away from the hunters, Anthony then lived with the elephants, night and day, until they got to know him and became comfortable within the sanctuary. His gentle, sustained eye-contact, calm conversations with the animals established a bond of trust and ongoing safety for the herds. We were able to rehabilitate the traumatised mother, Nana, who became a fond and dear friend.
After Anthony’s death, his sons and wife reported that two herds of wild elephants inexplicably made the 12-hour walk to his home. They had not visited it for one and a half years.
Nobody knows how they knew of his death, but they appeared to mourn the loss of their beloved friends. They stayed for two days and two nights before walking back.
If you are interested in reading Lawrence Anthony’s remarkable true story, The Elephant Whisperer, you can get it from Amazon here.
With thanks and recognition: