South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony is a model for the modern version of the rugged man. He is unconcerned about comfort, brave in the face of danger, smart when he needs to be, and dedicated to a better planet. He is one part pragmatist and another part dreamer. He is all of this as the owner and principal manager of the Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand. He is also a splendid writer, as he demonstrates in his memoir The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild.
While the threads of story are many in The Elephant Whisperer, the central action revolves around Anthony's agreeing to accept a "rogue herd" of elephants into his preserve. These elephants had continually escaped from their previous preserve, causing much damage in surrounding villages and farms. Anthony knew that they would prove difficult to manage, but he also knew that they would be killed if he did not adopt them. He had always dreamed of reintroducing elephants to his part of Zululand, an area that had been without them for 100 years. On the first night in Anthony's care, they tipped over an ancient tree to break out of a high voltage enclosure, verifying that his task would be challenging.
Read by Simon Vance, The Elephant Whisperer is a very entertaining audiobook. Told at a lively pace, the book includes comedy, tragedy, romance, suspense and action, as well as many memorable characters, many of them pachyderms. It joins other splendid recent books about conservation work in Africa, including Life, Love, and Elephants by Dame Daphne Sheldrick and Cathedral of the Wild by Boyd Varty.
Anthony, Lawrence. The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild. Thomas Dunne Books, 2009. 368p. ISBN 9780312565787.
audiobook. Tantor Audio, 2012. 9 compact discs. ISBN 9781452610894.