Wild elephants gather inexplicably, mourn death of "Elephant Whisperer"

Author and legendary conservationist Lawrence Anthony died March 7. His family tells of a solemn procession on March 10 that defies human explanation

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“She took another step forward. I could see her tense up again, preparing to snap the electric wire and be out, the rest of the herd smashing after her in a flash.

“I was in their path, and would only have seconds to scramble out of their way and climb the nearest tree. I wondered if I would be fast enough to avoid being trampled. Possibly not.

“Then something happened between Nana and me, some tiny spark of recognition, flaring for the briefest of moments. Then it was gone. Nana turned and melted into the bush. The rest of the herd followed. I couldn’t explain what had happened between us, but it gave me the

first glimmer of hope since the elephants had first thundered into my life.”

Elephants gathering at the Anthony home (Photo courtesy of the Anthony family)

It had all started several weeks earlier with a phone call from an elephant welfare organization. Would Anthony be interested in adopting a problem herd of wild elephants? They lived on a game reserve 600 miles away and were “troublesome,” recalled Anthony.

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“They had a tendency to break out of reserves and the owners wanted to get rid of them fast. If we didn’t take them, they would be shot.

“The woman explained, ‘The matriarch is an amazing escape artist and has worked out how to break through electric fences. She just twists the wire around her tusks until it snaps, or takes the pain and smashes through.’

“’Why me?’ I asked.

“’I've heard you have a way with animals. You’re right for them. Or maybe they’re right for you.’”

What followed was heart-breaking. One of the females and her baby were shot and killed in the round-up, trying to evade capture.

The French version of "The Elephant Whisperer"

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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