Lessons Learned From The Herd


After acclaimed conservationist Lawrence Anthony died, his wife Françoise Malby-Anthony was faced with the responsibility of running Thula Thula Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. Her book, An Elephant in my Kitchen, is about the reality of that life, the challenges she’s faced, and lessons she’s learned from the herd about love, courage, and survival.

“When Lawrence told me 20 years ago that we were going to live in a game reserve in the middle of Zululand and work for a big conservation project, I was out of my comfort zone. I’ve always been a city girl. I didn’t know about conservation or wildlife. I had never seen an elephant in my life, nor a snake. The reality hit me when he passed away unexpectedly six-and-a-half years ago. It was very tough in the beginning, but I have an amazing team of game rangers who worked with Lawrence and guided me,” said Malby-Anthony.

Lawrence and Françoise set up the game reserve to care for 800 injured elephants, but after his death, she was overwhelmed at times with the daily challenges, from security measures to poaching.

“I was really thrown in at the deep end when one of my orphan rhinos was shot two weeks after Lawrence passed away. I understood that security was a priority at Thula Thula.”

Speaking on the inspiration for the title of her book, Malby-Anthony said a baby elephant wandered into her kitchen one night.

“My chef knocked at my window one night, informing me there was an elephant wandering around in the garden… She went into my lounge and kitchen area. We called the rangers to look for the mother. After we cared for the baby and fed her, the rangers located the herd, and the baby was reunited with her mother. That was really beautiful.”

The book, which is a sequel to The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony, is about never giving up, despite the obstacles.

“It’s about carrying on Lawrence’s legacy. It’s also the story of a city girl who knew nothing about conservation but persevered in keeping the dream of Thula Thula alive.”