To Honor a Friend

We Are All Connected, Heart to Heart

Photo of Lawrence Anthony

Lawrence Anthony 1950-2012

On March 7, 2012, a friend and benefactor left this world.  Shortly after his death, many who loved him but could not speak that love paid silent tribute to his life by coming to the house where he had lived with his family to pay their respects.

No one had told them of his death.  They just knew.  Lawrence Anthony, husband to Francoise, father to Dylan and Jason, grandfather to two grandsons, conservationist, best-selling author, explorer, environmentalist, and most importantly to this story, friend to the elephants, had passed away.  He was brave, bold, and beloved by the creatures he worked tirelessly to protect.

A line of elephants approaches

We Come to Pay our Respects
Photo courtesy the Anthony family

Lawrence Anthony was a maverick in the truest sense of the word. His methods were unorthodox and often dangerous, but they worked.

While he watched the 2003 invasion of Iraq on the news, he was looking at wild elephants outside his door, yet his attention kept being drawn back to the bombing of Baghdad that was playing out on the television screen in his home.  He knew what had happened to zoo animals in other wars, and he was compelled to take action.  Baghdad was home to the largest zoo in the Middle East, but by the time Lawrence could make his way there, only 35 of the 650-700 animals remained alive.  The few animals that weathered the bombings and the looting of the zoo (people were starving and needed food) were the larger predators.

Anthony with a mother elephant and her calf

Anthony, Nana and calf.
Photo courtesy of the Anthony family

Lawrence Anthony’s first book Baghdad Ark details this incredible feat.  His second book was also an account of his unorthodox interaction with animals.  This time, it was the violent, rogue elephants of his native South Africa. The Elephant Whisperer tells of the lessons he learned about life, loyalty and freedom from a remarkable herd of elephants that came to live on the Thula Thula game preserve he was head of for many years.

In order to save the lives of these elephants, Lawrence Anthony chose to live among them, to feed them, to talk to them, to gain their trust.  They were destined to be shot as pests unless he could figure out a way to keep them from breaking out of the preserve, which they succeeded at a couple of times before he got the idea to live with them day and night.

elephants approach with baby

Gathering at the Anthony home.
Photo courtesy the Anthony family.

There are two separate herds of wild elephants that live on Thula Thula. Shortly after Lawrence Anthony suddenly died, they began to make their way, silently and solemnly, to  the home of their human friend.

They had come to say goodbye to the man they loved.  These elephants had not visited the house in about a year and a half.  Lawrence had started to distance himself from the herds because there were so many visitors coming to Thula Thula, and he did not want to endanger anyone.

It took the elephants about 12 hours to make the journey.  The herds arrived at the home within a day of each other.  They stayed for two days and two nights. Then they silently made their way back into the bush.

These elephants were miles away from the house when Lawrence Anthony’s heart gave out.  How did they know he had passed?

A good man died suddenly.  From miles and miles away, two herds of elephants, sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn, almost “funeral”, procession to make a (condolence) call on the bereaved family at the deceased man’s home.

                                                     Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, PhD

We are all connected.  We are all one.  One human heart stopped beating, and many elephant’s hearts started grieving the loss.

What an incredible life.  What an incredible gift.  What an inspiration to us all.

There is more to life than just yourself, your own family, and your own kind.                                                                                                         ~Lawrence Anthony

All original material posted to this site is (c)2012, Julie Marie.  All rights reserved.


6 thoughts on “To Honor a Friend

  1. Blew my heart wide open. A touch of “reality”. All reminders are good reminders – and never wasted. Especially when we allow “life” to take over momentarily. Thank you for being there.

  2. Beautiful! It touches my heart more than I can say at this moment. Thank you Juliemarie for this magnificent gift. Your angels are surely guiding you in the material you send out to to touch so many hearts.

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