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My Life with the Herd in the African Wild

by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-56578-7
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

South African conservationist and Earth Organization founder Anthony spins the uplifting story of his wildlife reserve.

“In 1999, I was asked to accept a herd of troubled wild elephants on my game reserve,” writes the author at the beginning of this robust portrait of Thula Thula, the game land he owns, in cooperation with a number of Zulu tribes, in Zululand—5,000 acres of raw landscape that is thought to have been part of the exclusive hunting grounds of the Zulu king. No longer, since Anthony now runs it as a conservationist lodge, but it continues to produce colorful tales of wild discovery. Most prominent are the many fascinating stories that surround his adoption of the elephants, an unruly bunch he endeavors to make at home on the reserve. With a combination of intuition and experience, the author intelligently discusses many aspects of elephant behavior. But Thula Thula is far more than an experiment in elephant reintroduction; it’s a slice of primal Africa home to Cape buffalo, white rhinoceros, leopards, crocodile, deadly puff adders and massive pythons. This, of course, makes it a target for poachers, and Anthony displays a manly, hardened edge. But he also demonstrates sensitivity and nuance in his dealings with Zulu tribal politics, especially when it comes to the cattle ranchers who want to take control of his land. Though the prose occasionally becomes mawkish—as in his “born-free adolescence,” remembered “as vividly as a lovelorn youth recalling his first heart-thudding kiss”—Anthony’s bone-deep mission is bracing and his courage is inspiring.

Energetic firsthand reportage from the heart of the African wild.