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class=”entry-title”>For the love of Elephants,


Meet Francoise Malby-Anthony, the passionate woman who keeps the late elephant whisperer’s legacy alive – and more, writes Katrine Anker-Nilssen




TV Program 50/50

On Thula Thula Game reserve and the situation of poaching during lockdown, real challenging times for wildlife conservation

Most adorable video of a baby rhino with her mum

This is the first video where we can see clearly our little bundle of joy baby rhino that we named Sissi, name short from Busisiwe, which means "blessing" in Zulu.
After the tragic death of little Lisa from viral infection in January this year, we were so devastated and never realized that her mother Mona was pregnant.

Sissi was born just before the lockdown was announced in March. Highly protected by her mother, we had very few sightings so far. Mona is gaining more confidence and trust that she lives in a safe environment as we see her more and more in open grassland. Mona, Sissi, Thabo and Ntombi are monitored 24/7 by our anti-poaching team.

The video was taken by our game ranger Victor

Wat olifanten mij leerden over moed, liefde en overlevingskracht

Op 15 juni verschijnt de Nederlandse vertaling van An Elephant In My Kitchen, het vervolg op de wereldwijde bestseller The Elephant Whisperer. In Een olifant in mijn keuken beschrijft Françoise Malby-Anthony hoe ze alles op alles zet om haar beroemde kudde olifanten te beschermen en hoe ze haar droom, een opvangcentrum voor wilde dieren, waarmaakt. De twee boeken spelen zich af in Thula Thula, een private game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.

Poaching during lockdown 

Thula Thula game reserve rhino poaching attempts foiled

Speaking with elephants

One of the strange consequences of lockdown happened at Thula Thula Game Reserve northwest of Empangeni in Zululand. This is where Lawrence and Francoise Anthony, in 1999, took custody of a herd of wild and traumatised elephants - and added to the annals of Africa’s wildlife story.

"Surprise baby”

On 17 July with the arrival of a baby hippo, that we named Jo.

Jack Hanna into the wild

We had the pleasure to welcome Jack Hanna, his wife Susan and daughter Kathaleen at Thula Thula in November 2019 for the filming of a new episode of their popular TV program INTO THE WILD. The two episodes aired in June and July in the United States.
Here is the presentation of the first episode!
Our US guests can see the whole episode in the US in replay: episode 1305 and 1307 of Jack Hanna INTO THE WILD.

Fun adoption newsletter May 2020

We are launching our FUN ADOPTION PROGRAM to help us survive for the next couples of months.

Thula Thula Wild Newsletter August 2020

Mona and baby Sissi:  Our little rhino baby. Sissi was born at the end of March as lockdown kicked in and has grown so much already. This “surprise” baby has become a little bundle of joy, gaining more confidence every day and her curiosity is a good sign of her learning from Mommy Mona, who is still ever alert and protective.  They are also getting used to the discreet presence of their 24/7 surveillance, anti-poaching team and the game viewers.

An Elephant in my Kitchen

READER'S DIGEST - April 2020

Following my husband’s death, I found myself in charge of the African nature reserve we created together. I didn’t know where to begin.

Mein bester Freund, der Elefant

Die Elefanten bringen ihm stolz ihre Babys. Und sie besuchen Lawrence Anthony jedes Mal, wenn er von einer längeren Reise nach Hause zurückkehrt.

Sie führt ein Naturreservat in Südafrika

Ich kämpfe jeden Tag gegen Armut und Wilderer

Rhino Love, the arrival of Mona and Lisa 10 May 2019

What does it take to move two rhino from one reserve to another? Loads of men (and women) power, plenty of dedication and heavily armed guards! Helicopter to dart, vets checking stability and performing tests, transport boxes and a truck for the transport.

The distance from Phinda to Thula Thula is 164km. Driving with two rhino through Zululand in the middle of the war on wildlife is a high security operation. The convoy included a security vehicle in the front and a security vehicle in the back with every imaginable "fire power" plus three support vehicles following.

It was all team work moving Mona and Lisa, here are Siya, Lynda, Vuzi and Francoise just ahead of the transport from Phinda to Thula Thula! Twenty km before reaching Thula Thula a surprise was thrown at us. The truck transporting Mona and Lisa broke down. What followed was simply incredible to witness.
Grant from Tracy & du Plessis Game Capture, the organiser of the relocation, called everyone in Zululand to assist. When Richards Bay Crane Hire heard that there were rhinos involved they dropped everything they were doing and rushed to our help. The transport boxes were reloaded to the new truck; and Mona & Lisa were on the final stretch to Thula Thula.

A hero at work! How driver Lesly Ndawonde from Richard's Bay Crane Hire navigated the the narrow paths of Thula Thula and reversed the massive truck into our boma is simply miraculous! Just a few steps away to welcome Mona and Lisa to their new home!

Security measures deployed during the relocation and capture of Mona and Lisa was done by armed guards.

Rhino protection in the year 2019!

Not only for the transfer between Phinda to Thula Thula heavily armed guards ensured safety and security. Now armed guards are protecting 4 rhino at Thula Thula, 24 hours of each and every day. For a private game reserve such as us the single biggest expenditure every month to ensure the safety of Thabo, Ntombi, Mona and Lisa, and all our precious wildlife.

Our gratitude and thanks go to:
YOU, our dear Thula Thula friends. For helping to get Mona and Lisa to our safe wildlife haven to create a rhino family at Thula Thula and by supporting and generously donating to our conservation efforts!
Grant and Team from Tracy & du Plessis Game Capture
The Team at Phinda Private Game Reserve
The Team of Richards Bay Crane Hire
Security 4U
The Thula Thula Wildlife Team
To continue to support us please visit: www.SAConservation.fund the official fundraiser for Thula Thula


Follow this link to YouTube

Surprise Rhino Baby Born at Thula Thula Game Lodge in South Africa

What a surprise! When the call arrived early Monday morning from the rhino monitoring guard – calling “Mona has got a baby” – we all thought we were still dreaming. Writes the team from Thula Thula Game Lodge in South Africa.

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Une parisienne, patronne d’une réserve africaine de près de 5000 km2, au cœur des territoires zoulous! C’est l’incroyable destin de Françoise Malby Anthony.

Elle est arrivée à Thula Thula, en Afrique du sud il y a 20 ans. A 9000 km de sa patrie la France!

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Une leçon de vie ou comment ne pas baisser les bras! Cette Française tombée amoureuse de l’Afrique du Sud, de son bush et de ses habitants sauve les animaux sauvages du braconnage.

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Cette Française qui a fondé une réserve animalière en Afrique du Sud.

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La réserve de Thula Thula en Afrique du Sud offre depuis 1999 une protection aux éléphants ainsi qu'à d'autres mammifères, sous l’œil bienveillant d'une Française.

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If you don’t have time to run off to Africa, but would appreciate an authentic wildlife adventure filled with noble elephant matriarchs, orphaned baby rhinos, a hippo named Charlie, and extraordinary humans dedicated to rescuing and protecting these imperiled creatures, consider reading An Elephant in My Kitchen: What the Herd Taught Me about Love, Courage and Survival. Written in the first-person narrative, the book recounts how Françoise Malby-Anthony unexpectedly became sole director of the Thula Thula game reserve upon her husband’s sudden death and her extraordinary efforts to keep the reserve open, build a wildlife rescue centre for orphaned animals, and protect them from ruthless, relentless poachers. And yes, an actual baby elephant appears in her kitchen.

read more


Invité du jour Francoise Malby Anthony - Braconnage : "si on ne fait rien, dans 20 ans, il n’y aura plus de rhinocéros"


Guest of the day Francoise Malby Anthony - Poaching: "if we do nothing, in 20 years, there will be no more rhinoceros"


Un éléphant dans ma cuisine, l’histoire extraordinaire de Françoise Malby Anthony, sort en librairie. Cette Française tombée amoureuse de l’Afrique du Sud, de son bush et de ses habitants sauve les animaux sauvages du braconnage.

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The “French abroad award” that was awarded to Francoise Malby Anthony at a spectacular function at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris on the 12th of March not only recognized her relentless work for the protection of African wildlife, the award also acknowledged her achievements in creating a vision of a sustainable game reserve that includes a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and an educational Volunteers Academy, as well as following the dream of her late husband Lawrence Anthony with the expansion of Thula Thula to increase the elephant habitat.

Her unique story is also available in an enchanting book as her book “An Elephant in my Kitchen” that re-counts her hardship and challenges, the joy and the despair and of course how an elephant ended up in her kitchen, was released in Germany in February and will be launched in French in bookshops in France in April, and in the United States in September 2019.

Watch the video here on YouTube



When her husband unexpectantly died, Françoise, who didn't know much about animals, took on Lawrence's Game Reserve.

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How does a glamorous urban blonde end up running an animal orphanage in Africa? Frangoise Anthony tells her incredible tale of love, loss and baby elephants.

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When Françoise Malby-Anthony, 64, moved to South Africa, she had no idea just how wild her life would become.

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What the herd taught me about love, courage and survival Francoise Malby Anthony Memoir on Conservation, Determination and Inspiration/ Voices for Biodiversity

To find out more about this bestseller, described by the Daily Mail UK as "the most magical book about life in the African bush since Born Free".

Have a look at the website


Into the Wild


A trip to Thula Thula gets visitors up close with the infamous elephant herd immortalised in Lawrence Anthony's bestselling books. But that is not all...from French Cusine to cutting edge conversation, this is a destination with so much to give!

Into the Wild


January 2022

New Year News

November 2021

Conservation coup

TWO significant land merge deals will create a huge boost for local conservation efforts.Thula Thula Private Game Reserve and the Ubizo Communal Property Association (UCPA) signed an agreement to join their land for the purpose of a greater conservation space.A memorandum of understanding was signed on Thursday by Thula Thula, represented by Francoise Malby Anthony, and the UCPA led by chairperson Thomas Cebekhulu.According to a media statement, the agreement records the Ubizo community’s commitment to incorporate into Thula Thula some 1 133 hectares of the Dube Ridge farm that was recently restored to them, in part settlement of a land claim.

Celebrating the historic signing are (back) Kirsten Youens – Thula Thula attorney, Francoise Malby Anthony, Clement Cebekhulu, Michael Crichton – owner and MD of Zulweni game reserve, Vusi Gumede – Thula Thula farm manager, Muzi Sikakane – game ranger, Siya Mbatha – Thula Thula head ranger, Thandeka Mndaba, Buyi Mbokazi, Thomas Cebekhulu; (front) Clive Kelly – attorney of the Ubizo CPA, Christiaan DuBuson – Conservation manager at Thula Thula and TA Cebekh

Dube Ridge farm previously belonged to Tongaat Hulett, and was stripped of its water rights and irrigation infrastructure before being handed over to the Cebekhulu community.The Cebekhulu community investigated all possible farming opportunities on the land and decided that the best use for the western portion of the farm would be conservation and tourism.The Ubizo CPA has considered that the best suited model for Dube Ridge farm, due to its proximity to Thula Thula, is that of wildlife conservation and tourism which offer the most appropriate and beneficial land use.‘We are delighted and grateful at Thula Thula to be in partnership with the Ubizo CPA, who have chosen to use their land and share the same vision as us for nature and wildlife conservation,’ said Francoise Malby AnthonyThe UCPA plans to create a Zulu traditional village to entertain tourists, which will be complementary to the wildlife activities of the game reserve.Following the signing of a lease agreement, the construction of the fence will commence and soon the world renowned elephants of Thula Thula will be seen roaming on Cebekhulu land.

Second pact

An agreement has also been reached between Thula Thula and Zulweni private game reserves, with the incorporation of a further 1 200 hectares, introducing the establishment of the Greater Zululand Wildlife Conservancy into a single conservation area, creating an extended land area of 5 600 hectares, with more projects of expansion in the near future. This expansion will provide a greatly increased surface area for the current, and any newly-introduced, wildlife to roam more freely.This will permit the introduction of new game species and, importantly, will also provide for a widening of the current gene pool and improved biodiversity, all positive improvement for wildlife in the region.

Written by Dave Savides of ZO News

October 2019

July 2018

Why do a South African Safari?

Safari is basically like a thrilling and adventurous journey, the journey to enjoy with free roaming animals. The animals usually live in their natural environment such as savanna, forests, wander around and prey. The best thing about the safaris is that human beings, just like you and me can visit and enjoy a wonderful interacting with these animals (but not disturbing them). Safari is generally an overland journey or a trip to Africa where people you can experience the wildlife as much as you want. The tourist guide, vehicles and other facilities are provided making sure that there is not sort of inconvenience.

Enough knowing what a safari is. Just out of curiosity, there is a question continually popping in my mind. Have you ever been to a safari? No? Well if not, then now is the time.

Now you might be probably wondering which safari is actually the best. Right? Well, the best of all is the South African Safari mainly because of the diversity of animals. There are several species of animals you didn’t even hear of. Elephants, antelopes, rhinos, hyena, buffalos and a variety of birds too. Trust me, it is one of the best and most diverse animal lands on the planet. From friendly omnivores to fierce carnivores, there are literally several different kinds of animals to see. To be more accurate, the nation (South Africa) has almost 299 species of mammals and 858 species of birds. Shocking? Well, believe it or not, it’s actually true.


Animals you can find in South African safari:

There are so many animals’ species in the South African safaris that it literally becomes tough to name. Some of the most common species are stated below, have a look:

Mammals: Some mammals you might see in the South African safari are Rhinoceros, elephants, cape buffalos, Springbok (which is South Africa’s national animal too), Nyala, bushbuck, Oryx, lions and leopards. These are just a few out of the hundreds of species which you can observe on your trip to the safari park.

Birds: Who doesn’t love birds? Those flying creatures are quite admirable. The best thing is that you can observe quite a lot of them on your trip. Some of which are; Ostrich, tawny eagle, African goshawk, snake eagle and spotted owl eagle.

Snakes: While most of you might be scared of snakes. Obviously, why won’t someone be, right? There are still some species you might want to observe live. If you haven’t ever had a chance, then this is your opportunity. On your tour or trip to the safari, you can actually see numerous different species of snakes which include; Eastern green mamba, black mamba, cape cobra, mole snake and puff adder.

These are some animals you might come across on your trip to the South African Safari. But don’t worry none of these can attack you. Precautionary measures and preventive measures are taken primarily. So there is literally no risk of life. Just a little adventure and some fun might be your way, though!!!


Why visit South African Safari?

South African safari is all about diversity and assortment. With numerous iconic and wildly travel destinations, national parks and wildlife safaris you will undoubtedly have a nice vacation in South Africa. There are several distinctive South African safaris but one of them which is the best of all and a whole book is written primarily about the exotic safari is at Thula Thula. Let me describe this amazing and unforgettable South African safari that you will love.

Why is Thula Thula too much fun? Let’s discover,

The magnificent area is just about 2-hour drive away North of Durban, and only about 50 minutes from the Richards Bay, which is 100% malaria free area.

The rich history
Thula Thula, is the oldest, private game reserve in the KwaZulu Natal province. Thula Thula was once the part of the exciting hunting grounds of the legendary Zulu King Shaka, he was the founder of the whole incredible Zulu Empire, which is today home to the great adventure, thrill, enchanting and mesmerizing things to watch and observe. The place is vibrant with wild and amazing animals like the buffalo, rhino, leopard, elephant, hyenas, crocodile, giraffe, nyala, wildebeest, kudu, zebra and a whole lot more beautiful species of animals. Along with animals there are close to 370 diverse species of the beautiful, unique and colourful birds that you can’t see in the rest of the world. The Raptors are also included in this fantastic area. Indeed this adventurous area is nothing less than a miracle alive on the universe right now.

The divine beauty
One of the exclusive experiences of Thula Thula South African safari is the absolute luxury. The Elephant Safari Lodge has 8 thatched unique chalets that are decorated in multiple flavors of colonial and ethnic elegance. Here you can learn more deeply about the ethnic beauty and culture of the beautiful African region of the world. Africa has some divine grace, the beauty is in her culture, traditions, and people and of course the Thula Thula safari.

Luxury accommodation

The Elephant Safari Lodge in Thula Thula safari offers some superb accommodation with the level of comfort and privacy you could ever wish for as the Suite Royale or the Suite Imperiale for special occasions. These suites can be an undoubtedly romantic place to spend and enjoy time with the love of your life. The absolute and divine luxury and the privacy in the AC rooms for the individual chalets of the Elephant Safari Lodge, all are elegantly decorated in a sumptuous colonial style with a beautiful private veranda with amazing view. That view from the veranda is something you can’t forget and those moments will always have a place in your heart.

The food with the thrill
Candlelight dinners served either in the dining room that is usually around the pool on the veranda or in the Boma around the fire under the beautiful sky with shining stars. A perfect romantic dinner with your loved one.

Exquisite décor
The stylish décor and the most superb cuisine of the region in a unique and beautiful atmosphere of the famous Elephant Safari Lodge have brought Thula Thula to be one of the most famous and loved gourmet destinations of the KwaZulu Natal region.
You can enjoy the exotic cocktails at the “Marula Bar” or you can just relax in the cosy lounge in the thatched Lapa while you can view the beauty of the magnificent birdlife.

The Safari adventure
One of the exciting and adventurous things to do here is to experience thrilling safaris in the open game drive vehicles, of course with the professional rangers, at this ancestral land. You encounter big game here, and that superb birdlife.
Thula Thula re-introduced a breeding herd of elephant in August 1999 marking the historic return of these majestic creatures to the area in nearly 100 years and specializes in elephant rehabilitation, led by the renowned conservationist Lawrence Anthony, who also initiated the rescue of the Baghdad Zoo in April 2003. So, whenever you are visiting South Africa, make sure you do pay a visit to the wildlife and safari parks too because a little adventure, fun, and experience are always a little different and exciting. So what are you waiting for? Book now your safari and enjoy one of your best vacations that you can ever get in your lifetime. Spend the time in an enchanting way with your partner and family and make some great, lovely, unforgettable, priceless and adventurous memories of the South African Safari.


May 2018

Up close with famous elephants by Billy Suter

EXCITING times lie ahead for Francoise Malby Anthony, charming owner and managing director of Thula Thula, the popular Empangeni game reserve and safari lodge now celebrating its 20th anniversary, and soon to launch a conservation drive involving volunteers.

This 4500-hectare reserve, as any wildlife lover will tell you, is the one made famous in the bestselling book, The Elephant Whisperer, by Francoise’s late husband, conservationist and author of three books, Lawrence Anthony, who passed away in 2012.

That 2009 book, co-written with Graham Spence, told the true story of a herd of wild African elephants marked to be shot for dangerous behaviour until Lawrence intervened, gave them a home on his reserve, formed a close bond with them and watched them flourish.

Read More on the Billy Suter blog here

April 2018

Best Weekend Getaway & Best Game Lodge

The Zululand community has voted and the results have been audited. The Best of Zululand is now in its 9th year and we received just over 29 000 votes. We are excited to announce that you have won the two categories for Best Weekend Getaway and Best Game Lodge in our Best of Zululand Readers’ Choice Awards for 2017/2018.

Best of Zululand 2017/2018 voting started in September 2017 and this year we saw a lot of new companies who got nominated in different categories. A total of 283 companies were nominated by our readers as finalists. Best of Zululand is a trusted brand and is part of the Zululand Observer publications for many years. Voting was extremely close as some companies won by only 1 vote.

March 2018

Lilizela Tourism Award

Very proud to announce that THULA THULA was honoured with the prestigious LILIZELA TOURISM AWARD for best four-star game lodge category 2018. Celebrating the Best of the Best in Service excellence in tourism and hospitality.

An Elephant in my Kitchen

An Elephant in My Kitchen, book by Francoise Malby-Anthony

What the herd taught me about love, courage and survival


A blonde, chic Parisienne, Françoise never expected to find herself living on a South African game reserve. But when she fell in love with renowned conservationist Lawrence Anthony her life took an unexpected turn. Lawrence died in 2012 and Françoise was left to face the tough reality of running Thula Thula without him, even though she knew very little about conservation. She was short on money, poachers were threatening their rhinos, and one of their elephants was charging Land Rovers on game drives and terrifying guests. There was no time to mourn when Thula Thula’s human and animal family were depending on her.

How Françoise survived and Thula Thula thrived is beautifully described in this charming, funny and poignant book.

Their elephant herd, rescued by Lawrence, shared Françoise’s grief at his passing but over time forged a new relationship with her. One day a baby, Tom, became separated from the herd and found his way into Françoise’s kitchen. Another day there was a desperate race against time to save a baby who had a snare wrapped around his face and couldn’t open his mouth to suckle.

Meanwhile, Françoise fulfilled her dream of building a rescue centre for orphaned rhinos and other wildlife. Abandoned hippo baby Charlie, who hated water, joined the centre’s rhinos and quickly became best friends with a little girl rhino called Makhosi. The traumatised babies had round the clock care, including an unlikely nursemaid in the form of a German Shepherd called Duma. If you loved Lawrence’s The Elephant Whisperer, or just want to spend time with some very special animals, then you won’t want to miss this sparkling book.

Order your copy now here


October 2017

Chinese Delegation visits Thula Thula – Education is key to Conservation

Sharing Vision on Anti-Poaching and Wildlife Conservation with the Chinese community.

For the past almost 20 years, Thula Thula has been dedicated to the rescue, protection and conservation of wildlife.
Despite the tragic events which took place on the 21st of February this year, we carry on, as the protection and survival of our wildlife is a fight that we can never give up.
Nowadays, most of our wildlife is endangered because of ancient traditions or superstitions.

3 Rhinos killed every day in South Africa and 1 Elephant every 15 min in Africa.

We can all fight this by different ways, by fighting with weapons, as this is a war, but also by education, as education is key to conservation.
This can be done by stopping the demand for rhino horn and elephant tusks. If there is no more demand, there will be no more killing of our endangered wildlife.
Children are the voices of the future and that is why it is vital for them to learn and understand the importance of wildlife conservation and protection, and to learn and understand the poaching crisis we are faced with every day in our nature reserves.
To each go back and spread the message now as if this carries on like this, in 20 years’ time, elephant and rhino will be no more to be seen in Africa.

On behalf of all our wildlife, we would like to thank Mr Jianzhou Wang, the Consul General of China, and the Durban Chinese Community, for choosing Thula Thula for this amazing donation and for caring and helping to make a difference and sharing our passion and vision for conservation.

Francoise Malby Anthony

Managing Director Thula Thula Game Reserve

September 2017


Best photo of the month by game ranger Jenni. A wild encounter between two rhinos Thabo and Ntombi and Shaka our young bull elephant. Quite an extraordinary sighting of this gentle meeting between two species which ended up in a most friendly manner.

July 2017

March 2017

Thula Thula Private Game Reserve & Safari Lodge has won a 2017 Top Valued Establishment Award!


We are absolutely thrilled to receive this recognition!

At a time when we have had such tragedy at the forefront of our minds, this message was very welcome! Congratulations to the whole team for your efforts.

Dear Thula Thula Private Game Reserve & Safari Lodge,

We are pleased to present you with a 2017 Top Valued Establishment Award! You’ve been rated as one of the best value accommodation destinations in Empangeni!

We are honouring you with this prestigious award based on consistent and excellent rates offered by Thula Thula Private Game Reserve & Safari Lodge to our guests.

November 2016


For more information please email info@thulathula.com