The Elephants of Thula Thula (Book Review)

The Elephants of Thula Thula by Françoise Malby-Anthony is a rich, detailed account of the hardships experienced while running the Thula Thula game reserve. But despite the seriousness of the subjects highlighted within the pages, such as poaching and the red tapes of acquiring wildlife permits, you will find yourself laughing out loud at the funny antics of the animals in the reserve too (here’s looking at you Thabo!). I found myself giggling on more than one occasion as I read about the personalities of the different animals, and my children delighted in the re-telling of these stories on our way to school in the mornings.

Through Françoise’s vivid recollections of the many events that have happened over her 22 years in the reserve we are given a wonderful glimpse into the day to day life in the reserve. It is the mix of brevity that also makes this such a compelling read, from cellphone stealing monkeys to dehorning the rhinos, from an elephant who can tiptoe past electric fences to relocating giraffes, from a rhino who dislikes noise to trying to increase the park’s size to keep the elephant herd together.

Woven throughout the book is a tale of sheer determination at overcoming the hurdles these past 24 months have thrown at us, from the challenges of lockdown brought on by Covid to the terrible looting experienced within our province last year. It serves as a stark reminder of all that we have faced, and brings respect to those who served in the tourism and hospitality industry during that time who had so many difficulties on top of everything we were facing. Add in the challenges of the different permits required and the obstacles thrown in their way towards wanting to create a bigger reserve for the animals, the acts taken to keep the rhinos safe from poaching, and wanting to help in protecting the future of the animals that are endangered, and you can see how busy this team is in an eye-opening look at everything the team does to protect their reserve and the animals within it.

I found The Elephants of Thula Thula to have a great balance between being educational and inspiring, perfect for those interested in the conservation of our wildlife, nature and environment for the future generation, and hopefully a catalyst to spur us into action to help where we can. I am fortunate in that I visited the Thula Thula game reserve about ten years ago, I loved my time there getting to meet the beautiful elephants we have come to know and I hope to one day take my children back to experience the magic of this reserve too. There’s never a dull moment in the bush!

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

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