I don’t often cry when I read books. I don’t often cry altogether. So it really took me by surprise when I found myself crying on Saturday night while reading The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony. Okay, I was on my own for the weekend and Saturday nights can be long sometimes, but I started reading the book on Friday night and finished late on Saturday night because I had to know what happened.
I can’t write much about it, because that’ll ruin the story for you. But it’s a short, easy- to- read book and a fascinating insight into animal communication. Lawrence Anthony is a South African conservationist who owns a game reserve in KwaZulu Natal called Thula Thula. He takes on a herd of “rogue” elephants that is going to be culled if he doesn’t. He has had no experience with elephants and these ones are traumatised and furious elephants, abandoned after most of their herd was killed. Everyone thinks he’s mad to take them; he thinks he’s mad to take them, but he does and so the story goes and I won’t tell you any more.
I heard him talking at the Book Fair – he’s a rough looking “oke” in his khaki shorts and shirt, a hairy white beard and big hands. But he is passionate about his elephants and reading his book is like listening to him speak. It is not scientific, he has no academic facts backing him up – he just tells his story and it is a wonderful, funny, sad and eye-opening book.
And I’m glad to tell you that my puppy-who-drives-me-mad came and put her head on my lap when I was crying, so there is something about animal/human communication that we don’t yet understand.