The Elephants of Thula Thula

Françoise Malby-Anthony

15 June 2023
320 pages


'Enthralling' Daily Mail

In 1998, Françoise Malby-Anthony founded a game reserve with her late husband, dedicating their lives to the protection of these beautiful, troubled animals. The Elephants of Thula Thula is the profound, compelling story of their life's work.

Françoise Malby-Anthony is the owner of a game reserve in South Africa with a remarkable family of elephants whose adventures have touched hearts around the world. The herd’s feisty matriarch Frankie knows who’s in charge at Thula Thula, and it’s not Françoise. But when Frankie becomes ill, and the authorities threaten to remove or cull some of the herd if the reserve doesn’t expand, Françoise is in a race against time to save her beloved elephants . . .

The joys and challenges of a life dedicated to conservation are vividly described in this charming and moving book. The search is on to get a girlfriend for orphaned rhino Thabo – and then, as his behaviour becomes increasingly boisterous, a big brother to teach him manners. Françoise realizes a dream with the arrival of Savannah the cheetah – an endangered species not seen in the area since the 1940s – and finds herself rescuing meerkats kept as pets. But will Thula Thula survive the pandemic, an invasion from poachers and the threat from a mining company wanting access to its land?

As Françoise faces her toughest years yet, she realizes once again that with their wisdom, resilience and communal bonds, the elephants have much to teach us.

Françoise’s descriptions of the empathetic behaviour of elephants, both towards each other and towards the humans who love them, are beguiling