“In 1999, I was asked to accept a herd of troubled wild elephants on my game reserve, Thula Thula. I had no idea how challenging it would be or how much my life would be enriched.”
Readers wary of nonfiction should be informed that this tale races along like a fictional action adventure; small wonder that its late author was dubbed “the Indiana Jones of Conservation.” A herd of nine “tuskers” has been so traumatized by humans that their behavior is deemed incorrigible; if Anthony won’t take them within two weeks, all will be killed. Anthony hires large numbers of men to erect essential, electrified fencing at a feverish pace while simultaneously building a holding pen, or boma, for the newcomers—and dealing with game poachers. Seven of the elephants arrive; the matriarch and her baby have been executed. Many breathtaking adventures ensue—some highlighting Anthony’s game ranger’s loyal, death-defying risks. Most of the 64 chapters end with an enticing cliffhanger. Anthony’s goals are not simply altruistic; he and his fiancee earn a living by entertaining game-enthusiastic tourists at their lodge. The specter of colonialism is unavoidable. However, Anthony’s patient attempts to rehabilitate elephants—and the ensuing accounts of intelligence and emotional connection from these behemoths—are moving and fascinating. There are hard moments, especially toward the end, but there is plenty of foreshadowing and humor throughout.
Save the elephants! (postscript, captioned photographs, glossary) (Memoir. 10-16)