It took them 12 long hours . . . .
Tramping through the bush in a solemn procession, one after the other, all determined to demonstrate their gratitude.
In doing so, the elephants of Thula Thula – a sprawling game reserve, deep in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province – showed that interconnectedness, the thing that is inspiring our OMs and underpinning all our efforts, is a force far beyond understanding.
But then Lawrence Anthony had always suspected as much.
It was Lawrence’s home the elephants made for, the herds set on paying their respects to the man who had saved their lives.
Prior to his death, back in March, the conservationist had been known as The Elephant Whisperer.
In understanding Thula Thula’s challenging herds better than anyone, the 61-year-old had made the most profound connection imaginable.
The giants who marched on the Anthony family’s rural compound had not always been so gentle.
Indeed, the elephants in question had been wild and violent, rogue animals prone to rampaging and ones marked for death. In order to save them, Lawrence agreed to ‘adopt’ the elephants, although his plan proved problematic.
Resentful and hostile, railing against their captivity, the herd escaped and the authorities decreed them ‘fair game’ for anyone brandishing a rifle. Putting himself at considerable risk, Lawrence stepped in again.
It was at this point that his faith in connection took over, for the inspirational environmentalist realized that electric fences and sedatives would solve nothing.
‘In a flash came the answer,’ he once recalled. ‘I would live with the herd. To save their lives, I would stay with them, feed them and talk to them, but most importantly, [I would] be with them night and day, we would get to know each other.’
The results remarkable, Lawrence’s reputation became legendary, with troublesome elephants from near and far being sent to Thula Thula to live in peace and harmony, safe and secure.
The bond unbreakable, the affection obvious and the connection clear, man and beast co-existed like never before . . . .
It isn’t just Francoise, Lawrence’s wife, or their two sons, Dylan and Joseph, who are mourning his passing, as that astonishing elephant procession proved.
Given that some of the elephants had not been seen at the Anthony Compound for 18 months, no-one knows quite how the herd knew, but that’s the astonishing thing about connection . . . .
It is, in large parts, inexplicable. It just is.
To quote Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Phd, ‘If ever there were a time when we can truly sense the wondrous interconnectedness of all beings, it’s when we reflect on the elephants of Thula Thula. [A] man’s heart stops and hundreds of elephants’ hearts are grieving. This man’s loving heart offered healing to these elephants and [they came] to pay loving homage to their friend.’
There is lots in this tale that inspires us, here in our studio in Saunderstown . . . .
The connection and the empathy, the fact that Lawrence took the time to understand the elephants, the compassion he showed and the rewards that followed.
These are the things that motivate us to make our OMs, symbolizing our own passion for connectedness and our drive for harmonious living.
Here’s to Thula Thula, here’s to Lawrence, and here’s to his elephants . . . .
Here’s to mutual respect, and here’s to listening to each other . . . .