This article appeared in the Zululand Observer:
uLale ngokuthula, sizohlala sikukhumbula...
(Rest in peace, you will always be remembered)
Lawrence Anthony (1950 - 2012)
The funeral of Lawrence Anthony will be held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, courtesy of the Ethekwini Municipality on Thursday March 8, at 2pm. The family welcomes all who wish to celebrate the life of the Elephant Whisperer
The Zululand community and the conservation world at large are in mourning following the sudden death of acclaimed conservationist and lauded ‘elephant whisperer’ Lawrence Anthony. Anthony, the son of Zululand Observer founder and current Managing Director Reg Anthony, died in his sleep in Johannesburg on Friday morning. He was 61 years old. Founder of The Earth Organisation, Anthony was due to hold a conservation gala dinner in Durban later this month to raise international awareness of the rhino-poaching crisis, and to launch his new book, ‘The Last of the Rhinos (The Powerful Story of One Man’s Battle to Save a Species)’. He was born in 1950 in Johannesburg, and matriculated at Empangeni High School in 1968. But before that, his childhood in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia had imbued him with a deep love for the ‘African bush’. He lived on his beloved game reserve and animal rehabilitation centre, Thula Thula Private Game Reserve near Heatonville.
A life well lived
Anthony was internationally acclaimed for his conservation projects. He was also an international explorer, sought-after public speaker and best-selling author. Anthony’s rescue of the Baghdad Zoo animals during the coalition invasion of Iraq in April 2003 received international acclaim. After the invasion he was appointed administrator of the zoo by the US Army, being responsible for the stabilisation and rehabilitation of wildlife and overseeing veterinarian care. His subsequent book ‘Babylon’s Ark’ won critical acclaim, and may be made into a film with the working title ‘Good Luck Mr Anthony’ that has been commissioned by Beacon Pictures in Los Angeles.
His second book, ‘The Elephant Whisperer’, was an international bestseller and was translated into French, German, Italian and Chinese. In 2007, Lawrence submitted the Wildlife in Warzones draft resolution to the United Nations in New York. The draft obliges member states to protect wildlife and the environment in war zones and to treat zoos, game reserves, marine parks, veterinary facilities and game rangers as illegitimate targets of war. In the same year, Anthony conducted an expedition deep into the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo to meet with leaders of the notorious Lords Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group involved in a 20-year war with the Ugandan government.
He addressed the entire military high command on the need for peace, and reinforced an agreement reached with the political wing in Southern Sudan, to protect the critically endangered Northern White Rhino and the Congo pygmy giraffe. This period is the subject of his latest book. Feted all over the world, Anthony’s principle focus throughout his life was his work with Zululand rural communities, and his belief that they should see the benefits of conservation. Anthony created two African reserves, the Royal Zulu biosphere situated south of the Umfolozi Game Reserve in KZN, and the Mayibuye Community Game Reserve at Camperdown, KZN.
Anthony was also known for his humanitarian work, which included being a principal guest speaker at the first Iraq Human Rights Conference held in Kurdistan that started the formal process to introduce human rights into Iraq. He also presented the South African model for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to members of the Iraq Governing Council and senior members of the Iraq judiciary. On his expedition to the DRC, he convinced the LRA to halt attacks on civilians in northern Uganda.
Anthony leaves behind his wife Francoise, sons Jason and Dylan, grandsons Ethan and Brogan, brother Gavin and sister Terry, as well as a beloved extended family. His funeral has been tentatively planned for Thursday in Durban. Further details regarding the venue and time will be posted as soon as arrangements have been confirmed, on both the Zululand Observer and Thula Thula websites. (www.zululandobserver.co.za
‘One of Zululand’s greatest’
Conservationist, best-selling author, activist, ambassador and an ordinary decent man. Lawrence Anthony’s colleagues, acquaintances, friends and fans were shocked and saddened by the news of his death. But all emphasised that his legacy lived on.