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December 6, 2011

Book Review || The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

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I am known as an animal lover, and I enjoyed this book immensely, even to the point where I couldn't put it down, telling myself "Just one more chapter, just one more chapter".

The Elephant Whisperer is about Lawrence Anthony and his family, who own the game reserve Thula Thula in South Africa and who decided to accept a herd of elephants who faced certain death if they found no home. Though the reserve was not ready for a herd of elephant, let alone one called "rogue" by those determined to be rid of them, Lawrence made a home for them. Using a mix of logic and gut feeling, he helps the herd to feel accepted in their new home, and shows them how not all humans are as horrible as those they've met in the big leagues of the Kruger National Park.

Throughout the novel, Lawrence's life is touched by the herd in either its entirety or by one of its members. My favourite parts are when Lawrence tells us about the elephants' uncanny powers of perception. On his trips overseas or around the country, the herd would come to his home and say farewell, and they would be waiting for him when he arrived to give him a warm welcome. Once, they were spotted on their way to welcome him back, but once they 'felt' that his plane was delayed, stopped in their tracks and walked away, somehow knowing that he was not going to be there any more.

The elephants are such characters that I'm desperate to meet one now: they have always fascinated me because of their social structure and for the way they seem to be so wise and spiritual. But Anthony's closing chapter is about how he has distanced himself from the elephants because they are, after all, wild animals and not meant to interact with humans.

As was shown with the bull of the herd Mnumzane, human interaction - admittedly reduced to teasing - caused him to be unafraid of the reserve's vehicles and guests. The situation was to the detriment for Mnumzane - he was shot.

I would still love to meet an elephant, but do you think I shouldn't support such a practice?

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