In 1999, Lawrence Anthony welcomed some troubled wild elephants to his game reserve. Simon Vance’s British voice takes on a gentle reminiscing tone that makes for an inviting account of a man’s growing relationship with the elephants. Vance captures Anthony’s concern early on when an escape almost cost him the herd and his joy as he realized the elephants were becoming accustomed to–and even welcoming–his presence. Occasionally, there are lighter moments, as when a kitten fearlessly tangles with the elephants. Listeners will find themselves rooting for Anthony–and his herd as well. J.A.S. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine [Published: MARCH 2013]
From Publishers Weekly
In 1998, prize-winning conservationist Anthony (Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo) purchased Thula Thula, “5,000 acres of pristine bush in the heart of Zululand, South Africa,” transforming a rundown hunters’ camp (dating to the 19th century) into a wild animal preserve and a center for eco-tourism. In 1999, Anthony agreed to take in a herd of “troubled” wild elephants, the first seen in the area in more than a century. Winning their trust, becoming deeply attached, and even learning how they communicate (deep, rumbling “whispers,” sensed rather than heard), Anthony took enormous risks in the form of enraged elephants, distrustful neighbors, and poachers. Over time Anthony succeeds in his larger goal, winning support from the six Zulu tribes whose land borders the reserve (“most Zulus … had never set eyes on an elephant”); they eventually join Anthony’s venture as partners in a larger conservation trust. An inspiring, multifaceted account, Anthony’s book offers fascinating insights into the lives of wild elephants in the broader context of Zulu culture in post-Apartheid South Africa. 8 page color photo insert.
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Anthony, conservationist and author (Babylon’s Ark, 2007), owns a wildlife reserve in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. A former hunting preserve, rumored to be part of the legendary Shaka’s exclusive hunting territory, it has become a game reserve with a lodge for ecotourists. Home to Zululand’s full suite of wildlife, Thula Thula had everything—except elephants. When he was offered a herd from another game reserve Anthony accepted wholeheartedly, despite the fact that these elephants were known escape artists. During their first night at the park the traumatized elephants broke out, and after days on the run had been given a death sentence by the local wildlife authorities, only averted when the author pleaded for one more chance. The story of how Anthony saved his elephants by making friends with them, reversing their negative perceptions of humans and earning their trust, is both heartwarming and heartening. Life on a game reserve is never easy, particularly when elephants are added to the mix, but Anthony’s enthusiasm and obvious love for the bush shine through in hair-raising, sad, and funny tales. This life with elephants is a real winner. –Nancy Bent —