Known as the “Elephant Whisperer,” conservationist Lawrence Anthony (17 September 1950- 2 March 2012) had the courage and drive to save the most dangerous elephants. There were nine wild elephants, which were so untamed, that no one could control them. Keepers were even considering shooting these elephants, but Anthony saved their lives. At his Thula Thula game reserve, conservationist Lawrence Anthony was able to calm down these elephants and keep them in his reserve. At other wildlife sanctuaries, these elephants has escaped and cause plenty of havoc, but conservationist Lawrence Anthony used his magic touch to make these elephants tranquil. Since he was born to tame the savage beast, he was dubbed as the “Elephant Whisperer.” Because he wanted to tell the world about his adventures rescuing wild herds of elephants, he wrote the book, The Elephant Whisperer, so that others could learn about his conservation efforts and support elephants in sanctuaries.
Born to be a conservationist, it is hard to imagine that at first conservationist Lawrence Anthony was considering a career in the insurance sector. However, in the mid 1990’s, he worked with the Zulu tribes people, and he found his work very fulfilling. Since he always loved adventure, he fell in love with Africa’s wild animals and its picturesque landscape. When he bought the Thula Thula game reserve, he made the promise to help save many wild animals, not just elephants, for the rest of his life. Living on the reserve with these majestic creatures was an idyllic life for him. He passed on his love of animals to his beloved wife Francois Molly and his two sons.
By writing books about animal conservation, that became bestsellers, he educated the world about wild animals and how important it is to conserve them. Anthony’s work, Babylon’s Ark, is his true story of how Anthony rescued the Baghdad Zoo, during the Iraq War. The Elephant Whisperer is Anthony’s true story about his challenges and triumphs working with and rehabilitating wild elephants. The Last Rhinos is Anthony’s account about saving the Northern White rhinoceros in the DR Congo. All of Anthony’s three works have inspired many animal conservation efforts and will surely inspire many more in the future.
For all of his successful conservation efforts, Anthony received many awards including the US Army 3rd Infantry Regimental medal for his bravery in Iraq during the coalition invasion of Baghdad. Posthumously in April 2012, he was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.
One of the greatest distinctions that conservationist Lawrence Anthony would ever receive occurred after his death. After he passed away on March 2, 2012, herds of elephants came to pay their last respects outside of his home. These elephants stayed outside of his home for 12 hours, and they mourned for Anthony like he was one of their own. Anthony’s family was able to witness these elephants saying one final goodbye to the man that saved them. These wild elephants, which were once labeled as dangerous, now showed the world that they had sensitivity and compassion.
How did the elephants know that Anthony had passed away? The answer to this question still remains a mystery. What we do know is that this story holds true to the famous quote about elephants: “an elephant never forgets.”