Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Elephant Whisperer, by Lawrence Anthony (author), Graham Spence (author) Simon Vance (narrator)

Tantor Audio, December 2012 (original publication January 2009)

Lawrence Anthony (1950-2012) was a South African conservationist and the long-time head of the Thula Thula game preserve. Dedicated to the preservation of all African wildlife, his rescue of a "troublesome" elephant herd that was about to be shot lead to a particularly close connection to elephants.

This book covers the time from that first phone call asking him if he wanted a herd of elephants  who kept breaking out of their current home and making trouble. Common sense said he should refuse, but saying no would mean the deaths of all nine elephants. He said yes.

We follow the scramble to get ready for the elephants, the shock of learning that the herd matriarch and her youngest daughter had been shot anyway, the elephants' breakout from their holding pen almost immediately on arrival. Anthony battles crisis after crisis, including the discovery that his own staff of guards are involved in poaching, while slowly and painstakingly building a relationship with the new matriarch, Nana, and getting the traumatized herd to recover and accept their new home. Over the nest several years, there is both success and heartbreak, for Anthony and the elephants.

Anthony tells an absorbing story, with humor and insight as well as the wide-ranging emotions that often accompany dealing with the highly intelligent, badly traumatized, five-ton elephants. This is a story well worth your time.

Highly recommended.

I bought this book.