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The Elephant Whisperer

Lawrence Anthony has a job he loves, and few others would. He’s responsible for a sprawling game preserve in South Africa. The Elephant Whisperer is his journal of experiences focusing on, as the title implies, his experience with a herd of elephants. That’s where the story begins. The herd, led by a stubborn matriarch, is so destructive, the current owner is at his wit’s end. He begs Anthony to take them. It’s either that, or they will be destroyed. He takes them.

Thus begins a tale of gigantic land animals wanting no part of playing along with people. They are restricted from wandering off the preserve by high electric fences. Think Jurassic Park with such fences keeping dinosaurs captive and having the same failure in doing so. But rather than eating people, elephants charge and stomp them. Anthony continues to remind the reader that elephants fear no other animal because of their sheer size.

Anthony has the patience of Job and works with the elephants over time, not to control them, which he could never do, but to live with them in relative peace. I say ‘relative’ since such animals can create havoc by just dropping by the house for a visit. Something that happens on more than one occasion.

The reader may wonder as they start the book how the story of Anthony and the elephants can sustain itself. That reader will soon find that there are more stories to be told about life in the bush of South Africa. One is of the neighbors, the Zulu tribal people who own land adjourning the preserve. Anthony reports in one chapter how he defended accusations against him in front of a tribal council. And, of course, there are stories of encountering other animals, including poisonous snakes one might find in their bedroom.

The Elephant Whisperer is a fine real-life story that will give the reader an expanded understanding of nature’s largest land animals and their environment.

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Jackson Coppley

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