Posted on Monday, September 30, 2013 by coffeecritic
Lawrence Anthony, bestselling author of The Elephant Whisperer, devoted his life to the rehabilitation of traumatized African elephants. He had developed a unique relationship with a wild herd of elephants which he had rescued and brought to Thula Thula, his game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. On March 7, 2012, he died of a heart attack. According to reports, two days after his passing, the wild elephants showed up at his home led by two large matriarchs. A total of 31 elephants had walked over 12 miles to get to his house. They stayed for 2 days and nights without eating, in accordance with the usual way they mourn the death of one of their own.
Is this story true? How did the elephants know that he had died? I checked Snopes to verify the story, but Snopes listed this as "undetermined" as of July 6, 2012.
Nevertheless, it is known that Anthony had an almost mystical relationship with the elephants. Over the years, his ability to calm wild, rogue elephants became legendary and he became known as the "elephant whisperer". In interviews, he has said that whenever he went away on a trip, the elephants would "magically" appear at his house on the day he returned. It is a well-known fact that elephants mourn their dead and in this case, they seem to have regarded him as part of their family.
It isn't only elephants who owe the "Indiana Jones of Conservation" a debt of gratitude. The bestselling author was honored many times as a conservationist, having founded The Earth Organization, and perhaps most famously, rescuing the animals in the Baghdad Zoo during the United States 2003 invasion of Iraq.This extraordinary event is told in his book Babylon's Ark: the Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo.
His final crusade was to save the last of the Northern White Rhinoceros, negotating with the infamous Lord's Resistance Army in southern Sudan to stop the rhino-poaching crisis, as told in The Last Rhinos, published just before his death.