Baby Themba brings hope to re­serve

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - TANYA WATERWORTH

24 hours later.

“After a long week of search­ing, we got them back in the boma and that’s where Lawrence started his spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with them, talk­ing or singing to them, feed­ing them.”

The herd was re­leased into the game re­serve, and 12 days later the ele­phants ar­rived at the An­thony’s main house.

“It was an amaz­ing en­counter, they all ar­rived at our house as un­ex­pected vis­i­tors, all seven of them. We had no elec­tric fenc­ing at the house, so they all stepped hap­pily into our gar­den.

“After a mo­ment of to­tal panic, try­ing to lock up our bark­ing dogs, re­act­ing wildly to these gi­ant in­trud­ers, in­side the house Nana came right in front of the ve­randa, ob­vi­ously un­aware of her power and strength, very gen­tle and softly try­ing to en­ter the house.

“We would have ended with a de­mol­ished house if Lawrence had not spo­ken softly to her, and call­ing her Baba and beg­ging her not to come in, while I stood be­wil­dered next to him dur­ing his lit­tle chat.

“That was an amaz­ing mo­ment to ex­pe­ri­ence in a life­time. These pre­vi­ously wild es­cape artists and prob­lem ele­phants were com­ing to say hello, peace­fully walk­ing around the gar­den.”

The orig­i­nal herd of seven has now grown to 30, and Malby An­thony said each had a unique per­son­al­ity and story.

But lit­tle Themba, she said, of­fered a mes­sage of hope that ele­phants can sur­vive and flour­ish if they are re­spected and pro­tected, both from poach­ers as well as ex­ploita­tion in cap­tiv­ity.

Lawrence An­thony’s book The Ele­phant Whis­perer de­tails his jour­ney with his ele­phants.

tanya.waterworth@inl.co.za

PIC­TURES: KIM MCLEOD

Pro­tec­tive mum Nandi shows her new baby, Themba, the way.

Proud dad Mab­ula gets up to a few an­tics in the bush.

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