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Thula Thula Private Game Reserve with its centuries of cultural and wildlife heritage, traces it's origin back to the private hunting grounds of King Shaka, founder of the Zulu Empire. Thula Thula pays tribute to its rich history, taking its name from the Zulu word “thula”, meaning peace and tranquility. Unique atmosphere, stylish décor, exclusive and personalised service makes Thula Thula a truly magnificent bush experience.
The Elephant Safari Lodge offers eight luxurious chalets elegantly decorated in a colonial style. Thula Thula is one of the most renowned gourmet destinations in KwaZulu-Natal, using a fusion of the most delicate fare combined with exotic flavours and enhanced with the finest South African wines. Rediscover nature in a style true to the African safari camp of a past era at the recently opened luxury tented camp, where the peaceful African bush surrounds you. Exclusivity is assured with only 8 luxury tents, all with private viewing decks and luxurious ensuite Victorian bathrooms. View wildlife from the swimming pool bar or relax in your tree suspended hammock overlooking the Enseleni River. Thula Thula is home to a diverse African wildlife population; the re-introduction of a family herd of elephant in August 1 999 marks the historic return of these great creatures to the area for the first time in 1 00 years. Thula Thula is situated 2 hours from Durban and six hours from Johannesburg.
Useful Links: Thula Thula www.thulathula.com Lawrence Anthony & Friends www.lawrenceanthony.co.za The Earth Organization www.earthorganization.org
Sunday Independent Newspaper 'Charm & Adventure at Thula' - May 2011
Country Life Magazine
'Doing the Elephant Walk' - March 2011
'Retreat Yourself' - November 201 0
The Star Newspaper
'Look what I found' - June 201 0
Find Thula Thula on: Facebook
The Mercury Newspaper
'Gobisa's Escape' - September 201 0
'Handling the African Addiction' - January 2011
'Thula Thula' - July 2011
Thula Thula Game Reserve owner, Lawrence Anthony, is the author of two books: 'Babylon's Ark', the incredible wartime rescue of the Baghdad Zoo, and his latest book, released in South Africa in August 2009, 'The Elephant Whisperer', the extraordinary story of one man's to save his herd. This book is the beautiful story of the Thula Thula herd of elephants, since their arrival in August 1 999.
Lawrence is busy with his third book 'Blood Horn' . This high adventure story is a slice of primal Africa following his adventures on Thula Thula and then on into the Congo and Sudan, trying to prevent the extinction of the Northern White Rhino.
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DESCRIPTION: When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of 'rogue' elephants on his reserve at Thula Thula, his commonsense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival - notorious escape artists, they would all be killed if Lawrence wouldn't take them. He agreed, but before arrangements for the move could be completed the animals broke out again and the matriarch and her baby were shot. The remaining elephants were traumatised and very angry. As soon as they arrived at Thula Thula they started planning their escape... As Lawrence battled to create a bond with the elephants and save them from execution, he came to realise that they had a lot to teach him about love, loyalty and freedom. Set against the background of life on the reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, this is a delightful book that will appeal to animal lovers everywhere. DESCRIPTION: When the Iraq war began, conservationist Lawrence Anthony could think of only one thing: the fate of the Baghdad Zoo, located in the city centre and caught in the war's crossfire. Once Anthony entered Baghdad he discovered that full-scale combat and uncontrolled looting had killed nearly all the animals of the zoo. But not all of them. U.S. soldiers had taken the time to help care for the remaining animals, and the zoo's staff had returned to work in spite of the constant fire fights. Together the Americans and Iraqis managed to keep alive the animals that had survived the invasion .
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"Babylon's Ark" chronicles the zoo's transformation from bombed-out rubble to peaceful park. Along the way, Anthony recounts hair-raising efforts to save a pride of the dictator's lions, close a deplorable black-market zoo, and rescue Saddam's Arabian horses. His unique ground-level experience makes "Babylon's Ark" an uplifting story of both sides working together for the sake of innocent animals caught in the war's crossfire.
Charm & Adventure at
Thula At Thula Thula, intimate elephant encounters and fabulous French cuisine are top of the menu, writes Joanne Rushby.
THERE it is again, "whispered Sizwe as I peered into the bush, listening
intently. "The Gorgeous Bush-Shrike: very difficult to see. You can spend the whole day looking for this bird - you will often hear it, but hardly ever see it." The call of the Gorgeous Bush-Shrike seemed to joyfully and elusively follow me on my three day trip to Thula Thula game reserve, a two-hour drive north of Durban, and home to about 350 species of birds. It is well worth taking a walk in the bush with one of the knowledgeable guides if you want to spot at least some of them. I was lucky enough to see a Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Bateleurs and, most impressive of all, Trumpeter Hornbills. Alas, not the Gorgeous Bush-Shrike this time. But it's not the birds that Thula Thula is most famous for: it's the elephants, and their friend, Lawrence Anthony - the "elephant whisperer" as he has become known. Only a few months ago, the reserve was in the news again as a rogue bull elephant called Gobisa, brought in by Lawrence, broke out of its boma within hours and crashed through the electric fences of Thula Thula and neighbouring reserves, causing havoc, and more than a few sleepless nights for Lawrence and his staff. The bull was recaptured, with the help of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and has now settled peacefully into his new home. Finding the elephant cows has undoubtedly helped with integration. It's not the first time that Lawrence has saved elephants. The conservationist made headlines in 1 999 when he agreed to take in a herd of nine maverick elephants who were about to be shot if not adopted.
Publication: Sunday Independent Newspaper Published: 27 March 2011, page 10,11
Lawrence agreed and so began the story of his famous bond with the herd's matriarch, Nana. The elephants broke out of the reserve, crashing through the wildlife reserve of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, a path that could have led to their demise. Lawrence saved the elephants from the shotgun and persuaded the authorities to allow him to take the herd back to Thula Thula. There he spent every night for two weeks sleeping outside the boma, talking and singing to the herd, until he finally felt they were ready to be released. The bond he established with Nana and the herd would prove to be lasting, as she returned to his house one night with her new baby. Nana had been pregnant during this whole saga. Thus, a friendship was also born. You may be lucky enough to see the elephants near the lodge, but it is probably safer and, according to the staff, less damaging to the environment, that they are seen in their more natural habitat. The reserve has recently doubled in size, providing greater and much-needed space in which the elephants can roam. It's an undulating landscape: acacias, thorn trees and scrub with the camps nestling in the valleys. Lawrence and his team have done much to eradicate alien vegetation, and they are about to embark on the new section of the reserve. On our afternoon game drive, as the Land Rover lurched from side to side in the muddy grooves, the driver suddenly stopped and jumped out, having spotted tracks in the mud. They were fresh. As he bent down to check how long ago the elephants had passed by, there was a loud crack in the bushes behind us. There were three elephants plus a baby feasting in the trees. They were very close but unfazed by our presence. Picture - Suite Imperiale, Thula Thula
Publication: Sunday Independent Newspaper Published: 27 March 2011, page 10,11
Picture - Boma Dining, Thula Thula
A hush descended as we watched, and then one of the elephants, a cow, approached the truck. Curiosity had got the better of her and she came closer, so close you could feel the breath from her trunk. The Land Rover inched a little further-down the track, the rangers well aware of the dangers. The reserve, one of the oldest in KwaZulu Natal, is also home to leopard, two orphaned rhinos, wildebeest, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, hyena, kudu and a host of smaller animals. We spent time with Alison, an English veterinary nurse, who is taking care of the orphaned rhinos, feeding them and keeping a close eye on their movements. She watches anxiously from the ridge as the baby rhinos venture further into the reserve each day. The hum of a helicopter above is also cause for concern: rhino poaching gangs often seek "fresh kill" from the air. With the current dangers (71 animals have been killed this year alone in South Africa), Alison has every reason to worry. The rhinos will eventually sleep in the reserve, but they will be monitored at all times. However, it's not only the bush and game that attract people to this reserve. There is a different side to Thula Thula, and that is the impressive personality of Lawrence's wife, Francoise. Francoise Malby-Anthony is bold, beautiful and full of life. A Parisian by birth, Francoise has made Thula Thula her home, after meeting Lawrence one cold winter's night in a taxi in Paris. She was unimpressed by his attire in the freezing Parisian temperatures. dressed in the bush uniform of someone used to 30oC heat. However, charm and adventure won her over and Francoise didn't take much persuading to swop Paris for a hunting reserve in the bush that they have now lovingly restored. Francoise is clearly the energy behind Thula Thula, and adds a touch of French cuisine and flair to the lodge: four-course dinners around a large dining table are an evening feature, and Francoise carefully works out menus with her staff to provide a culinary experience of note. We feasted on venison terrine and seafood bouillabaisse creole, sucking the meat from crab's claws and, if you have space for it, the desserts are legendary You will definitely need a bush walk after all the eating. Publication: Sunday Independent Newspaper Published: 27 May 2011, page 10,11
I asked Francoise what it was like adjusting to life in Zululand. She said she loved Paris and its culture, but had easily settled into her new environment, and found the people here friendly and warm. She signed up for Zulu classes when arriving in Durban more than 1 0 years ago, but once she got to Thula Thula, she soon found that no one could understand her rather old-fashioned Zulu grammar and conversation. She started all over again, and it is easy to see how well she communicates with her staff, handling what is clearly a frenetic environment on occasions. On one of the evenings, she had to negotiate feeding 40 people, as well as keeping the two baby rhinos out of the lodge. They had wandered over, curious to see what was happening, and at any moment could have crashed through the kitchens into the bar. Bouillabaisse all over their horns! This is the bush experience with benefits, no roughing it out in the open with the snap of twigs on the ground to keep you awake at night. You can sleep in the comfort of a thatched chalet, with mosquito nets. There is also a luxurious tented camp, with en-suite bathrooms and secluded outside showers. The tented camp is very popular with South Africans, where evening meals are round the braai or campfire. And if you want your bush experience with holistic benefits, Francoise now offers yoga bush retreat weekends, which are proving to be popular with groups from Joburg and Cape Town. Francoise is passionate about the venture, and speaks about her "yoga ladies" with enthusiasm. In fact, I'm sure I spotted a wildebeest doing the lion pose! If you want to practise your asanas in the peace and tranquillity of the bush, check out the website for details of available weekends. The cost of a weekend is R3 300 for two nights all inclusive (bar expenses not included). The weekend includes accommodation, four yoga classes, an aromatherapy massage, one game drive and a bush walk, plus a cooking class with Francoise. HOW TO GET THERE:
Thula Thula Game reserve is a two-hour drive from Durban, near Empangeni. Check out: www.thulathula.com - for rates and packages at the different camps in the reserve. You can also visit for the day - rates include lunch/dinner and a game drive. Contact Francoise Malby-Anthony for details of the yoga/ cookery weekends. Tel: 035 792 8322 e-mail: email@example.com
Publication: Sunday Independent Newspaper Published: 27 May 2011, page 10,11
After going down on his front knees, Mabula gored the ground with his tusks and then rolled over on his side, legs sticking ignominiously into the air.
a place where trust and time is restoring relationships between humans and animals, and one man's passion for conservation is making world headlines. Publication: Country Life Magazine Published: March 2011, page 68, 69, 70, 71
a drought-stricken Zululand. A constant I low rumble of thunder animated nature I with electrifying energy, and as the game-drive vehicle navigated the slippery hill, the rain came down in straight jets. At the pinnacle a lone elephant stood. "It's Mabula," Siya said from the tracker seat. "He's in musth". THE NOVEMBER RAINS HAD REVIVED
Mabula is one of the seven rogue elephants that came to Thula Thula Game Reserve in 1 999. Lawrence Anthony, the owner of Thula Thula, has chronicled the incredible story of this herd in The Elephant Whisperer, which he co-wrote with his brother-in-law Graham Spence. It is a book that has gripped the imagination of an ever-increasing group of readers, luring many to this place in rural Zululand that was once the hunting grounds of King Shaka. Siya and Sima, the two game guides, were apprehensive of Mabula's temper and we kept a safe distance. When he picked up our presence Mabula led us into a dance of retreat and approach. Even the most docile of bulls is turned into an aggressive, unpredictable animal when their testosterone levels surge during musth. Eventually Mabula turned sideways to show us his full size and then went down on his front knees, goring the saturated earth with his tusks. It then seemed as if his sense of humour got the better of his hormones as he rolled over on his side, legs sticking ignominiously into the air Twice this performance was repeated, and Sima decided it was time for us to beat the retreat.
Lawrence Anthony and his wife Franรงoise with volunteer Alyson McPhee.
^ Thula Thula Elephant Safari Lodge is situated between tall tamboti and marula trees, and overlooks an active waterhole. < Nana, the matriarch of the rogue herd of elephants that came to Thula Thula eleven years ago. The bond between Nana and Anthony is a central theme in his book The Elephant Whisperer.
The original herd that Mabula belonged to came from Mpumalanga traumatised, angry and dangerous. Thula Thula was their last hope of finding sanctuary. But, led by the matriarch Nana - named after Lawrence's mother - they continued down a destructive path that led Zululand's conservation fraternity to the conclusion that the adults were beyond rehabilitation and had to be taken out. Lawrence begged for a last reprieve and upon receiving it camped out in his Land Rover just behind the electrified fence of the holding boma. Desperation and intuition must have > Publication: Country Life Magazine Published: March 2011, page 68, 69, 70, 71
> inspired him as he started talking and singing to the herd. So began the formation of a bond and communication between man and animal that transcends traditional beliefs and general knowledge about the social behaviour of elephants. In one of the most poignant scenes in Elephant: Whisperer, Lawrence describes how, after two weeks of constantly talking to the elephants, a palpable change came over the herd. Daring to approach the fence, Lawrence found himself faceto-face with Nana, who then put her trunk though the fence and started to gently touch him. The decision to release the herd into the reserve proved to be welltimed, as they proceeded to settle down in their new environment. The rain had let up when we came across the breeding herd. The guests, from as far afield as Vancouver; were keen for the guides to point out Nana, Frankie and the other characters of The Elephant Whisperer. Nana - now blind in the right eye, her left tusk broken - grazed peacefully with her young calf. It was evident that the emotional scars of 20 years ago had been healed. Thula Thula's elephants now number 20 in total, including Gobisa, a mature bull that was brought in to be Mabula's patriarch. Not wanting the legend of Nana and her herd to diminish his reputation, Gobisa also broke out of the boma and the reserve soon after his arrival. But, in Lawrence's own words, "He soon picked up on the females and realised there are a lot of pretty girls on the reserve! His attention has now switched from testing the boundaries to following the herd - a very good sign." We met Gobisa on the road back to the lodge. Dusk was falling as we watched him squirting mud and sand into the air and over his head. Eventually he raised his trunk high, sensing us, before casually sauntering into the bush. How fortunate we were to have encountered all of Thula Thula's elephants on that rainy afternoon. Back at the lodge, the aromas from the kitchen promised culinary heaven. Francoise Malby-Anthony has brought all the flair and finesse from her home country to this remote corner of Zululand. She's celebrated for the French-African fusion food that the guests are treated to at the luxury lodge. Once a year she attends classes at the Le Notre Culinary Institute in Paris to keep abreast of the latest food trends. "But we have to adapt to the local palate and products," she says in beautifully accented English. To mention but one of the dishes from the four-course dinner menu - pineapple chicken on sweet potato cake with chocolate chilli and red wine sauce. Ooh la la! After dinner we sat around the bar, joking and listening to the fascinating stories about everyday life at Thula Thula. The Anthony family has deep roots in Zululand, Lawrence and FranĂ§oiseâ€™s love of the land, its animals and people defines their lives. With a growing list of awards for his various conservation projects and initiatives, Lawrence is described by the media as an environmentalist, explorer; and bestselling author Both books from his pen - The Elephant Whisperer and Babylon's Ark - have been translated into several languages and are under negotiation for international film rights. Lawrence dreams big and he takes bold steps in realising> Publication: Country Life Magazine Published: March 2011, page 68, 69, 70, 71
< his goals. Steps like entering war-torn Iraq in 2003 to rescue the traumatised animals that had survived the bombing of the Baghdad Zoo - a saga grippingly portrayed in Babylon's Ark. Today the Baghdad Zoo is again the biggest in the Middle East and receives thousands of visitors every year- one up for the conservationists. But, says Lawrence, Uganda's northern white rhino has now been declared extinct - a species lost forever. Two years ago Thula Thula's only white rhino was lost to poachers, but since then two rhino orphans, Thabo and Nthombi, have come to Thula and are being introduced into the bush by volunteer Alyson McPhee. This is the scale of balances in the quest to save nature, and mankind. The trick is to try to tip the balance in nature's favour - not an easy feat. In this, the Anthonys have created a beacon in Thula Thula. In parting, I wanted to learn the secret to communicating with elephants. "There is really no mystique about it - anyone can do it," Lawrence declared affably. "It is all about reconnecting with nature and your instincts." FOOTNOTES
Thula Thula Game Reserve is situated north-west of Empangeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The 4 000ha reserve will soon be joined to the 96 000ha Hluhluwe-lmfolozi Game Reserve through a corridor that incorporates community land. After 1 4 years of education and negotiation with the communities and the five chiefs that rule over this land, two community game reserves have now been declared. Thula Thula and its surrounding communities have joined hands in the quest to preserve the land and animals. Thula Thula Private Game Reserve
035 792 8322,082 259 9732,083 787 9991 , firstname.lastname@example.org, www.thulathula.com COUNTRY LIFE TEXT AND PICTURES: ANITA DE VILLIERS
Pictures Above - Alyson McPhee with her babies - the white rhinos Thabo and Nthombi. Below - Game guide Siya braves the rain and Mabula's antics in the tracker seat. Publication: Country Life Magazine Published: March 2011, page 68, 69, 70, 71
Publication: Woman's Health Magazine Published: November 2010, page 158, 159, 160, 161
It's late afternoon at Thula Thula Private Game Reserve and five elephants three adults, two little ones - have just slipped into the thick bush across the Nseleni River. A tame and curious bush pig is sniffing then blowing sand around the base of an acacia tree, scouring for a meal. She was rescued from a snare by Lawrence, says his wife Francoise Anthony, who co-owns the lodge, over a decadent vegetarian lunch. Rescuing animals is what he does. Often. (Remember the guy who saved all the animals from Baghdad Zoo back in 2004? That was Lawrence.) Thula Thula has become a place of safety for many animals; a place for them to heal and flourish. Appropriate, then, that this is also where to come for a yoga retreat. "Tuck your tail bone under," instructs the yoga teacher. "Drop lower into your front knee. Lower... Lower..." And you sink a little deeper into your pose. Further than you've been before. For the rest of this class, you're totally in tune with your body. A quick "yoga retreat" search on Google yields 21 9 000 results - from a detox retreat and a beginner's version that includes a spa treatment, to an advanced Ashtanga retreat in India. "There are many different types of retreats as yoga has so many expressions," says Jessika Munnell, co-owner of Yoga Life studio in Cape Town. "There are light-hearted retreats that offer yoga and surfing; there are serious raja retreats - the meditation side of yoga - where you may do a lot of meditating, studying and very little asana practice." (Asana practice, by the way, is called Hatha yoga and is a tiny part of the discipline, but has been perceived by the Western world as what yoga is.) "A retreat is a great way to recharge and> Publication: Woman's Health Magazine Published: November 2010, page 158, 159, 160, 161
A time to chill
So here you are on Friday evening, wearing yoga gear on the wooden deck of a luxury tented camp, with a bush pig less than five metres away. You and eight others are lunging into warrior II, but your mind's still in the office, running through a daunting task list, when suddenly something curious happens: you become aware of the breeze on your bare arms. The office falls away as you notice the air flowing over your knuckles, brushing the skin of your inner wrists. The air is so soft, you think as you focus your senses, and it carries that earthy fragrance of dry winter grass.
< connect with yourself" says teacher - "On a yoga retreat, the focus is balance and real relaxation" trainer Tracey Rohan-Irwin from Shades of Yoga, who runs retreats around Southern Africa. "It's an opportunity to immerse yourself in the pure indulgence of eating healthy food, and to move stress out of your body through movement and breathing exercises." But this being my first yoga holiday, I was initially apprehensive, until the promise of a French cooking class, game drive, massage and a bush walk made it seem both enticing and accessible. Being relatively new to yoga, I was concerned about being able to keep up. If I can't touch my toes or remember what "trikonasana" is how on earth would I cope with four classes in one long weekend? These yoga-newbie insecurities, coupled with an insane diary and that task list at work, meant I almost cancelled - but for those very reasons, it turns out, this weekend is just what I needed. Spirited away
And the good news is you don't have to be a seasoned yogi to reap the chill-out benefits of a weekend retreat. The beauty for everyone, explains Munnell, is that you are out of your everyday routine and can be free to experience yoga with more presence. A retreat is not just about the poses, so if spending a weekend pretzelling yourself on a mat sounds too intense, consider this: if it makes you feel twitchy, it's probably just what you need. Although yoga is a 5 000-year-old discipline, retreats are a modern answer to modern living, says Stafford Whiteaker, author of The Good Retreat Guide. "They're a special time to give yourself some peace and calm." BALANCING ACT - How to get the most from your yoga weekend...
> Take your own yoga mat. "It's a more personal journey to work out on your own mat every day," says Medina. "Plus you won't have to worry about sharing other peoples' sweat!" > Consider going alone. "It's an opportunity for quality 'me' time. You'll never be lonely, as you'll meet amazing, like-minded people," says Tracey Rohan-Irwin of Shades of Yoga. "That said, it's also a very special experience to share with a friend or partner."
at Thula Thula.
Publication: Woman's Health Magazine Published: November 2010, page 158, 159, 160, 161
> Stop drinking coffee and alcohol a week before you go. "Yoga postures work to detox and purify the body, and you will achieve far greater results if your body doesn't have to struggle with removing toxins," says Megan Medina, who teaches the retreats > Turn your phone off for the duration of your retreat. You'll survive without it. Promise.
Thousands of people are realising this. In 2007, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation identified "holistic tourism" as a market to watch: as stress levels increase and hectic lifestyles intensify, they reasoned that more people would be searching for holidays that would give them time to focus on their mind, body and wellbeing. "People are realising that we're looking to the wrong things for happiness and You donâ€™t need to be a seasoned yogi to reap the benefits of a weekend retreat that true contentment lies in balance, in finding our connection to the earth, to ourselves and to each other," explains Cherryl Duncan, teacher and owner of Living Yoga in Joburg. "Instead of rushing off for a break in another big, bustling city where it's all about shopping, coffee and public transport, people are now opting for a week of rejuvenation, relaxation and true happiness." We've just completed our second yoga class of the weekend. I'm feeling a little lighter and totally relaxed, while soaking up the morning sun from a deckchair outside my four-star tent. While waiting for a scheduled massage, I watch a bushbuck graze lazily around a tree stump; the pre-trip angst seems so far away. "On a yoga retreat the focus is balance and real relaxation," says Duncan. "Practising a yogic lifestyle on holiday truly gives the mind, body and spirit a chance to rejuvenate, which is what holidays are meant to do." Observing my surroundings from that deckchair, I'm living proof of that - and it's only Saturday morning. Where:
Thula Thula Private Game Reserve, 45 minutes from Richard's Bay, KwaZulu-Natal It's for you if...
you're longing for the peace and quiet of the bush. Accommodation is in a luxury tented camp (maybe you'll get to sleep in the same bed as Julio Iglesias did in 2008) on the banks of the Nseleni River. Between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning there are four yoga classes, a game drive, bush walk, massage and a French vegetarian cooking class. Picture - Thula Thula Tented Camp Tame bushbuck roam the camp, and elephant and other wildlife can often be seen drinking from the river. Teacher: Style:
Megan Medina / Charlene Heyns
One weekend a month; see the website for dates What it costs:
R3 300 per person sharing, all-inclusive. Info at: www.thulathula.com Publication: Woman's Health Magazine Published: November 2010, page 158, 159, 160, 161
Picture - Thula Thula Tented Camp
It’s early evening in Thula Thula Private Game Reserve. The day’s exercise of walking around my beautiful home is over and look what I’ve come across; it’s warm, wet and round. If I push it around and roll it about it could be used as a soccer ball, but wait a minuteP oh no, here comes mom behind me. I’ll pretend that I don’t see her. Suddenly I feel her trunk tugging at my floppy ears and she’s pulling me away from my new toy. Mom gives me a firm nudge and I suddenly find myself on her trail off to look for a spot to bed down for the night. ^ OH WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAYPAn adult and her baby walk on the road close to the Safari Lodge in Thula Thula Private Game Reserve. > THIS WAY, JUNIORP AND DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING: The young elephant leaves the road and disappears into the thorn veld to find somewhere to sleep for the night. Publication: The Star Newspaper Published: 28 June 2010, page 13
1 . HELLO, WHAT’S THIS? The youngster decides to investigate a fresh pile of “poo”. Hard to resist!
2. OH NO YOU DON’T: Things are far too quiet. Mom comes over to see what the little one is up to. 3. CAN I HAVE IT? The youngster tries to pick up the pile of freshly laid dung. Not very portable. 4. I CAN’T TAKE YOU ANYWHERE: Big Momma decides to get mischief out of there. Aw gee, Mom!
5. I NEVER HAVE ANY FUN: Mom and baby head away from the inappropriate toy. Pictures and words: Karen Sandison 4
5 Publication: The Star Newspaper Published: 28 June 2010, page 13
UP YOU COME, BIG FELLA
PICTURE: DYLAN ANTHONY
Bull elephant Gobisa is hoisted on to the back of a truck after it was recaptured by an Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife game capture team near the R34, between Empangeni and Eshowe, yesterday. Gobisa lay waste to a fence of gum poles at Thula Thula game reserve, went through electric fences as if they did not exist and travelled more than 25km before being recaptured. Ironically, the bull was brought to Thula Thula to calm down the reserveâ€™s young elephant population.
PICTURES: DYLAN ANTHONY Publication: Mercury Newspaper Published: 23 September 2010, page 1
Thula Thula - Elephant Safari Lodge
Two months after Thula Thula White Rhino Heidi was tragically killed by poachers, Thula Thula has welcomed a five month old White Rhino onto the reserve. Relocated to Thula Thula on the 25th October 2009, the 1 70kg youngster, named Thabo, arrived after a fourteen hour long trip from Limpopo and was brought on the reserve by his adopted family. When he arrived at Thula Thula it was pouring rain outside, a sign of good luck in the Zulu culture. Thula Thula acquired the rhino from the Moholoholo Rehab Centre in Limpopo after the one-day old calf was found alone, badly dehydrated, in a Free State game reserve. It is not known whether his mom died in childbirth, abandoned him (thinking he wouldn't survive) or was scared off by predators. Just in time for Christmas, Thabo got a friend! Ntombi had been found after her mother had been killed by another rhino and she was also taken to Moholoho Rehabilitation Center. Thabo had never seen another rhino before and the two have since built quite the friendship. Both Thabo and Ntombi have settled well in their new home. Top Left - Thabo at one day old Top right - Thabo at Moholoho Rehabilitation Center. Bottom Left - Thabo received milk preparation every 4 hours during 24 hour care. Bottom Right - Thabo, Lawrence Anthony, game ranger Pieter le Roux & handler Alyson. Left - Thabo and Ntombi meet.
HANDLING THE AFRICAN ADDICTION
From Bristol to Buchanana, Alyson Mcphee (28) followed her dream to care for creatures in the African bush. ‘I’ve always been interested in animals,’ confesses Alyson. ‘I just prefer them to humans.' Alyson attended a college in Gloucester where she studied animal care and husbandry. She then went on to do a year’s work experience with a vet, working towards becoming a veterinary nurse. From 2003 until the end of September 2009 she worked as a veterinary nurse for Woodvet Group in Gloucester, devoting herself to animal care. ‘I’d been watching a programme, Wild at Heart, and really wanted to volunteer my services to looking after animals in the African bush,’ recalled Alyson. ‘I’d been to Zimbabwe with a boyfriend three years ago and had got a taste of the African addiction.’ Volunteer - Alyson went through a volunteer agency and was placed at Moholoholo rehab center in Limpopo where she was placed in a group, looking after different animals. It was here that Alyson met Ntombi. ‘In the second week of October, 2009, a baby White Rhino, Ntombi arrived from the Kruger. ‘Ntombi was five months old and an orphan as her mom had been killed during a fight with a bull.’ Ntombi was severely distressed so Alyson and a fellow handler, Risha, talked to her throughout the night, building up a bond with the animal and getting her to feed from a bottle. That same day, several hundred kilometres south of Moholoholo, another orphaned White Rhino, Thabo, arrived looking for love at Thula Thula Private Game Reserve in Zululand. Teaming up - Two months down the line, Thula Thula needed a handler to look after Thabo and they agreed to take on Ntombi as well. ‘I didn’t want to leave Ntombi,’ said Alyson, ‘so I went with her to Thula to look after both of them. It didn't take long for the two of them to become inseparable.’ Orphaned rhinos are usually cared for up until about 1 8 months. ‘They followed me around everywhere. They’re so affectionate and just love cuddles.’ Alyson recalled two incidents where she was upset and was comforted by her pachyderm friends. ‘Back at Maholo I was a little homesick and Ntombi cuddled up and put her head under my arm. ‘Another time I was feeling down, the two rhinos sat around me, shielding and protecting me until I felt better.’ A month ago the two rhinos were officially released from the boma into the wild. ‘They sort of decided themselves and wandered out all day. ‘They’ve since stayed away more and more, although they do visit the boma occasionally.’ There is a strict no human interference rule to discourage the rhinos becoming familiar with people, making them vulnerable to poachers. However they will be guarded 24/7 in case of poachers.
Publication: Zululand Observer Published: 06 January 2011, online <click to see original article >
To the rescue of SA's rhinos A private game reserve in Kwazulu-Natal is taking no chances with the risk posed by poachers, and has assigned guards to their special charges, writes Vivien Horler
POACHING poses such a severe threat to rhinos' lives that at Thula Thula, a private game reserve near Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal, the rhinos have been assigned armed bodyguards. In what might be seen as an ironic contradiction, these wild, free-ranging animals are followed in the bush day and night by guards who are dedicated to ensuring that they do not meet the fate of so many other rhinos in Africa, slaughtered for their horns. Thula Thula is owned and run by Lawrence Anthony, the man who helped save many of the animals in the Baghdad Zoo after the beginning of the war in Iraq, and whose book on the subject, Babylon's Ark, made for gripping reading. He has also written a book called The Elephant Whisperer, about coping with a troubled herd of wild elephants he took on at Thula Thula. In many ways Thula Thula doesn't quite meet one's idea of a wild reserve deep in the bush. That's because it is not remote at all, and from many parts of the reserve you can see villages on the surrounding hills. This is not, however, unfortunate - it is part of Anthony's plan to involve communities in the wildlife of Africa. Publication: Weekend Argus Published: 17 July 2011, page 17
Guns and guards can only do so much, he believes, and the true way to fight poaching is to restore communities' traditional and cultural ties with nature - ties that were destroyed by colonialism and apartheid. "People around here have lived on the edge of reserves all their lives, reserves like Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and now Thula Thula, and yet have never seen a zebra. "White people visited reserves and admired the animals, but black people couldn't do that. "The old style of tackling poaching was guns and fences and uniforms and exclusivity, but you can't do that anymore - meaningful moves against poaching depend on communities." Anthony has held "hundreds" of meetings with the communities surrounding Thula Thula - where many locals have found work - and in consequence, poaching for meat has dropped in the reserve by 90 percent. The other kind of poaching is the organised hunting of elephant and rhino for their tusks and horns, and that is a different matter altogether Rhino poaching in South Africa is out of control, he says, with an average of one animal a day being slaughtered. Thula Thula has lost two rhinos to poaching. In the second attack, the poachers came in by helicopter The aircraft's identifying numbers had been covered so there was no way to trace it. "We saw the helicopter, but had no idea what it was doing. The next day we found Heidi, who had been shot. She'd had a huge horn, nearly a metre long and was a magnificent specimen." The current spate of rhino poaching began when the Vietnamese minister of health went on TV to announce that his cancer had been cured by rhino horn. In China rhino horn, because of its price, has long been a available as a traditional medicine only to the wealthier sections of society "But now, with the Chinese economy booming, more and more people can afford rhino horn. Weight for weight, I understand, rhino horn is more valuable than gold in the final powdered form. So Heidi's metre-long horn is seen by the poacher as a horn of gold. That gives you some idea of the problem." Apart from the cruelty - the animals are sometimes darted and have their horns hacked out while unconscious, leaving them to bleed to death - losing rhinos is also horrendously expensive. Anthony says a white rhino costs around R375 000, and a black rhino, double that Insurance companies will no longer cover them. And then of course there is concern about the species. Historically there were thousands of Western Black and Northern White rhinos and save for five Northern Whites in a facility in Kenya, where they are trying to breed them, they are all gone. "So the large-sounding numbers mean nothing - entire sub-species have been wiped out in the past few decades."
Publication: Weekend Argus Published: 17 July 2011, page 17
But there is good news; for one thing, official attitudes are changing, says Anthony. In 1 996 two poachers were caught with duiker carcasses and shotguns, and the magistrate, a Zulu woman, acquitted them, saying "Zulu men must hunt". Nowadays, he says, locals know that you can get 1 5 years in jail for rhino poaching. Recently a man was convicted in Ulundi, and sent to jail for 1 5 years. "The news flew around Zululand," says Anthony. 'Attitudes are changing - people know that animals and reserves bring in money, and people and the government are saying, 'Why should foreigners take our rhino?' There's been a huge change in perceptions." At Thula Thula, the solution has been bodyguards and community outreach. Thula Thula has just two rhinos, both two years old - and relative babies - although almost a ton in weight each. Both were hand-reared, so are particularly vulnerable to poaching as they don't fear people. Nthombi, the female, was rescued after her mother had been killed by a rhino bull. The male, Thabo, was found near a waterhole in the Free State with his umbilical cord still attached, and no sign of a mother. It is assumed she had been poached. They were taken to Thula Thula where their primary carer has been Alyson McPhee, 29, a veterinary nurse from Bristol, who came to South Africa as a volunteer, fell in love with Nthombi, and has stayed. To this day, McPhee follows the two rhinos all day in the bush, in the company of security guard Bheki Gumede. At night two other guards take over. Not having been reared by their mothers, the baby rhino have needed all sorts of coaching from McPhee, including how to take mud baths, which are important to protect their skin and get rid of parasites. "I've had to be their mum and constant companion," says McPhee. "They're becoming more independent now, but will still come to me if they want comfort or a cuddle. Thabo, particularly, still likes to be kissed on the nose and have his face stroked." They have less human interaction as they get older, but they still need protection. McPhee gets very fierce when the subject of poaching comes up. "If anyone hurt these rhino, I'd hunt the poachers down, torture them for a week and when near death I'd tie them to a tree and let the hyenas do the rest." Hopefully with Anthony's community outreach programmes and the 24-hour bodyguards, it will never come to that.
Publication: Weekend Argus Published: 17 July 2011, page 17
Thula Thulu Private Game Reserve in Zululand, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, Thula Thula is the home of the herd of elephants made famous in L...