As I sit in the comfort of my lounge..in the UK, my mind is constantly wandering to the far reaches of the sun kissed land that feeds my soul, and a land that I love so passionately. The horrors of poaching and animal trafficking leaves an ugly taste in my mouth and an even uglier scar on the land. These horrors of poaching invade my life through the social media network that even governments are unable to control and each and every time another elephant and other wildlife is poached, I feel like I have been kicked in the stomach. What can I do to help has been a constant chirp in my ear? What started as a slow wave of destruction has now reached tsunami proportions as wave after wave of attack leaves desolation in it’s wake.

Elephant eyeThe African bush, the womb of the continent has taken a perilous descent into the underworld leaving brushstrokes of blood and tortured scenes of desolation deep in the shadows. Death however, does not only stalk the wildlife. It also shadows those brave rangers who face unprecedented onslaughts from ruthless and well armed criminal gangs, who are determined to leave with their booty. In the deep stillness of the African bush, unquenchable greed has turned this beautiful bronzed land into a raw and violent battlefield.

The haunting cry of the ‘coucal’ is often overpowered by the the unwelcome ‘ k-k-k-k-k’, an irate bark from a machine gun. These are not random thugs after a piece of bush meat. These are highly organised gangs who poach for profit which in turn funds terrorist activities. The Rangers in Africa are often underpaid and ill-equipped as they fight to protect our precious wildlife.

Going on patrol is like doing a duty on the front line and just as, if not more dangerous. They are braced for the continual onslaught but need our help. Without donation support, they are unable to run a well oiled business. These Wildlife Warriors (My poem) need comprehensive training and the resources to carry out their important work. These brave men and woman are up against towering storm clouds that threaten our wildlife’s existence.

The earth will provide plenty: but never enough to fulfill man’s greed and these courageous men are fighting to stop our bush from becoming a no-mans land of external waste.


Let us all salute these men and women and celebrate the power and resilience of the human spirit.

CHENGETA WILDLIFE is completely volunteer run and this investment will allow the rangers the much needed skills and resources to defend themselves and protect the magnificent elephants.

rory young anti poaching

True Essence of humanity

How do you even begin to try and find words that describe an icon like Lawrence Anthony. To me he was ‘the true essence of humanity’. From a mystical point of view, I can only describe him as having achieved a perfect blending of a physical being with a pure non-physical soul.


From reading about his incredible journey with the wild herd of elephants (The Elephant Whisperer) on his game reserve Thula Thula in Zululand, South Africa, you get a strong sense of his integrity. He abhorred destruction and hatred. He was connected with greater things and greater understandings. Lawrence Anthony was able to see the wonder and miracle of life on this planet. He was able to see the sheer magnificence of this world that we as humans appear to be so incompetent at sharing. He knew that the earth and all her inhabitants were to be treasured.

As we look around the world today, we can’t help but observe that not only are  humans destroying millions of their own kind in the name of politics, power and religion, they are also hell bent on annihilating animal life and the environment. Both violence towards people and animals for many of the two legged beings has become a socially acceptable form of human behaviour: sadly, a way of life.


Lawrence Anthony, in my mind was guided by a pureness of spirit, non-violence and compassion towards all living things. He was passionate about people, animals and the environment.

In his book Babylons Ark, the incredible rescue of the Baghdad Zoo, this amazing man wrote:

The prophets of doom are already saying it is too late, that the crude and uniformed impact of man on the planet’s life systems is just too great and that we don’t have enough time to turn it all around. I don’t happen to agree, but I do know that we are entering the endgame. Unless there is a swift and marked change in our attitudes and actions, we could well be on our way to becoming an endangered species.’

Powerful words from a special man who sadly left this earth too early.


Lawrence Anthony was an icon in the environmentalist movement. One of his legacies ‘Earth Organisation’: a non profit, non partisan organisation aimed at reversing the dwindling spiral of life on earth and creating a healthy and habitable planet on which all life has the right to thrive and prosper.

Lawrence Anthony was 61 years old when he died of a heart attack. He was taken before his planned conservation gala dinner in Durban aimed at raising international awareness of the Rhino poaching pandemic and to launch his new book, ‘The last Rhinos’.

In April, 2012, he was posthumously awarded honorary Doctor of Science degree by College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal.[5]

On his passing, the two wild elephant herds trekked through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of this compassionate man who had saved their lives. This man, who was known as ‘The Elephant Whisperer’, a legend to more than those whose paths he had crossed, was being shown the ultimate love and respect from these sentient animals who had looked into his very being and found the pureness in this man.

The world and it’s inhabitants has lost a great spirit, and one of natures true warriors, who restored more than just a herd of elephant’s faith in mankind.


BOOKS BY LAWRENCE ANTHONY (Information below from Wikipedia)

‘Anthony is a bestselling author and his books have been translated into several languages. His brother-in-law, Graham Spence co-authored his three books.[5]

Anthony’s first book Babylon’s Ark, published by Thomas Dunne Books, is the true story of the wartime rescue of the Baghdad Zoo. Babylon’s Ark has won literary awards including the Booklist Editors Choice in the category adult books for young adults, and the French 28th Prix Littéraire 30 Millions d’Amis literary award, popularly known as the Goncourt for animals.

Anthony’s second book, The Elephant Whisperer, published by Pan Macmillan, tells the story of his adventures and relationship with a rescued herd of African elephants.

Anthony’s third book, The Last Rhinos, published by Sidgwick & Jackson, is the true story of Anthony’s involvement to rescue the remaining Northern White Rhinos in the DR Congo.’


Awards and recognitions[edit]

  • The Global Nature Fund, Living Lakes Best Conservation Practice Award, for “A remarkable contribution to nature conservation and environmental protection.”
  • The Earth Day medal presented at the United Nations by the Earth Society for his rescue of the Baghdad Zoo.
  • The Earth Trustee Award.
  • The US Army 3rd Infantry, Regimental medal for bravery in Iraq during the Coalition invasion of Baghdad.
  • The Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship for outstanding contribution to the ideals of Rotary.
  • The IAS Freedom Medal.
  • The Umhlatuzi Mayoral Award for Outstanding Community Service.
  • Member of the governing council of the Southern Africa Association for the Advancement of Science.[4]
  • International membership, the Explorers Club of New York.
  • At a presentation in Washington, DC in March 2009, respected international journalist Tom Clynes named South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony amongst his six most impressive and influential people in a lifetime of reporting. Other names on the list include such luminaries as Sir Edmund Hillary



The African bush with all it’s russet trimmings and natural treasures sneaks in and steals your heart. It leaves you drifting in tranquil moments and golden sunsets.  Deep wells of memories and desires weave a bridge between the future and the past. When you leave the bush behind, you yearn for those vast blue skies and horizons that drift into heaven. For those of you who have been fortunate enough to meet with these magnificent giants in the African bush and have been privileged enough to catch a glimpse of the elephants unwavering honesty, compassion and intelligence will never forget that moment, or them. Elephants, for me are the essence of Africa and a great subject for debate.

What is it about elephants that makes humans want to own a piece of them? I’ve left my home country with a heart full of precious memories and many photographs. Others leave with an arm tinkling with carved ivory bracelets or other trinkets taken from these ‘enigmatic animals.’ Is it that they want to hold onto a deep feeling of belonging or are they just trying to capture a piece of the magic that surrounds the elephant.  I don’t know why. We all know what poachers and traffickers make out of these filthy deals, but what makes the demand so unquenchable? What is it that makes these elongated cone like shapes of dentine so highly sought after?


Ivory, when it is dead has an uneasy splendour about it. Nothing can come close to the beauty of ivory on an elephant. It has a warmth and lustre that pulses with life and personality. Ivory belongs to elephants and has no use to man. For whatever different reasons humans want to own a piece of ivory for: we all know that it comes at a great cost to the unfortunate elephant herds who supply the demand. Hundreds and thousands of these sentient creatures are slaughtered and mutilated to feed the demand. Elephants and other wildlife are irreplaceable riches and have no where to run and nowhere to hide. (My poem)


We all need to turn east and face the dawn before our beloved African bush is denuded of it’s walking riches. The African bush could be facing a future minus the very essence that adds to it’s magic. Stand tall and act with compliance. Say no to ivory. Help to save our elephants.


little ellie - big ears

What attracts humans to elephants? Their enormous size? For me personally, I am sucked into the magic that surrounds them. When in the presence of an elephant, the air appears to be purer and you can feel a pulse throbbing beneath your feet. A vibration of vitality engulfs my very being and I turn into an awestruck and lovesick fan of theirs. There is a peacefulness and goodness so overwhelming, that when they turn and amble off, they steal another chunk of my pounding heart. These sentient beings are creatures of the bush: they capture the very essence of nature.


I feel sad and angry at what humans are doing to these animals and I always nod vigorously when asked if I think that elephants are aware of what is happening to their species. Now, I am certainly no expert on elephants and do not pretend to be. However I am passionate about them and deep within my core, I know that they are aware of the continual attack that is threatening their very existence. Sadly, they have no where to run and are being crushed under the heels of supposed civilization. Now is the time to listen: and the time to act.


When left alone elephants are the picture of serenity. They are as old as time and have allowed humans a breathtaking glimpse into their world and sharing with us their compassion and intelligence. As the days fade like passing shadows, more and more elephants are being poached in such alarming numbers that the frightening word ‘EXTINCTION’ rears it’s ugly head. Their rhythm of  life is rudely and savagely broken and their tusks are torn from their faces to be carved and fashioned into trinkets for us humans.

These animals when left alone, are long lived and large-brained. Researcher Joyce Poole has spent many years in the field trying to crack the ‘elephant code.’ Through her research, she has found that elephants use more than 70 kinds of vocal sounds and 160 different tactile and visual signals, gestures and expressions while communicating in their day to day lives. What we as humans can’t hear, has always been there, and we are now more aware of the elephants rather sophisticated way of connecting with each other. AND, they are the only beings in the world who do not need a telephone to make a ‘TRUNK CALL’. To read and learn more about these different vocal and non vocal communications, immerse yourself into their world for a few minutes.

Some of the latest research is now showing that elephants have a separate alarm call to warn the herd about the presence of ‘US’. Humans, sadly are their only enemy and poachers have proved to be a ruthless adversary.

Let us please, not continue to drift through the days like trees without roots. Let us hear their calls, listen to their cries and take heed. We, as humans have the ability to stop this violence against our elephants, rhinos and other wildlife.  Let us take heed of  ‘the elephant calls.’ (My poem.. Hear our calls)


Herd drinking


In the golden silence of early evening, the shimmering leaves appear to be holding their breath. Africa’s giants ghost into view, puffing up small whirls of dust that appear to hang motionless. Their matriarch, her large and noble head held high, swings her trunk back and forth. She is at one with the peace that only early evening can bring. Despite her heavy bulk of 10 000 lbs (10 tonnes), she has the lightness and grace of a dancer. She is an ambassador for her kind, ‘Loxodonta africana.’


Her fluid movements ooze with confidence as she leads her herd into the darkening shadows of nightfall. They follow her through the swirling dust along the well worn game trail. Their survival depends on her guidance and they trust her implicitly as she has led them for the past 30 years.  They are a cohesive group of females and their delightful offspring. She, the matriarch and her daughters have assisted with many births, forming an impenetrable wall of muscle and tusks around the cow in labour. The birth of a calf causes much excitement in the herd as they encompass the new born with joy: a cacophony of trumpeting screams and rumbles shred the air. All the females welcome and encourage the newborn to get onto it’s feet as this short video clip shows.  An elephant’s emotional attachment to their family members rivals our own.


The mother is responsible for providing the +-250 lb newborn with milk. Like all mothers, her newborn is a precious seed and it will never grow unless nourished and nurtured. In the elephant world, the new born will be raised within this warm and caring environment, learning life skills from all the females in the Matriarchal herd. Young aunties or elder siblings will take on baby sitting duties and this all important for their development, preparing them for the responsibilities of ‘Motherhood.’

These young elephant calves learn how to become independent by watching and mimicking the others. A calf will begin to experiment with it’s trunk around 4 months of age, but it will take a lot of practice to become proficient at taming more than 40 000 muscles that gives an elephant’s trunk such dexterity.


Elephants will spend from 12 – 18 hours a day fulfilling their enormous appetite. An adult can consume between 200 – 600 lbs of food. As herbivores, their ‘smorgasbord’ will consist of grasses, tree foliage, bark and twigs washed down with up to 50 gallons of water per day. Their choices of menu change with the varying seasons. Nature knows best.  According to this report, elephants concentrate on the bark, stem and roots rather than foliage or fruit and plants. In this way it reduces the elephants overlap of food selection with other animals.

The information passed down over generations is imperative to their survival. Discipline is necessary for unruly youngsters who will receive a cuffing from one of the elders’ trunks to keep them in line. To survive, they need to be team players. They have learnt all the right skills and they use them effectively. The matriarch has taught them that clear roles within the herd: communications, co-operation, respect for one another, decision making and the art of skillful reconciliation ensures cohesive bonding between the elephants. When in crisis, they will trust and follow the matriarch who has earned their respect, and she will not rule by force or fear. Her impeccable  memory serves them well.

Through the darkness, two adult cows stand like sentries: their large ears gently fanning the warm and heavy air. With a low frequency purr that you can feel rather hear, the herd rouse themselves, their need for food fueling them on. As the golden light stitches the horizon together with the coming of dawn, lazy light sneaks through the leaves freckling the ground. This charming family of elephants have lived to face another day. These ambassadors of the wild have shared with us their intelligence, love and compassion. They are a source of great peace and wisdom that us humans should take note of. Over centuries they have been treated with a total disrespect from humans and things need to change. Us, as ‘rational thinking animals’ have the ability to alter our destructive ways. The thought of a world without these sentient beings is unthinkable. We have already caused such disharmony in their lives, but there is still time to change. The challenge is now to reshape outdated perceptions about these animals.


london 6