Story by Janet Burgess and Yvonne de Kock
” A most successful and enjoyable morning was had by Sailors’ Society last week with 115 guests at Kloof Country Club.
Our speaker was Francoise Malby- Anthony from Thula Thula Game Reserve who spoke so well on how a chic Parisienne became the owner of a game reserve in South Africa.
After a tasty breakfast and riveting talk an auction was held for a most exquisite painting of a baby elephant painted by Glenda Patterson. The highest bidder was delighted to be the owner.
Many tickets were sold for our Raffle with a prize of 5 days at Fairways Resort in the Southern berg.The raffle is still open and the winner will be announced on 21st April.
“I grew up a city girl, a Parisian through and through, but who knew nothing at all about animals”. These were the words of Francoise Malby-Anthony, author of ‘An Elephant in my Kitchen’ and manager of the Thula Thula Game Reserve who shared her remarkable life at a fundraising event of the Sailors’ Society.
However when she fell in love with renowned South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony, Author of The Elephant Whisperer she left Paris and arrived in South Africa 30 years ago. Together they founded Thula Thula Game Reserve.
A turn in her life came when Lawrence passed away in 2019 and she was left to run the game reserve. .
About 100 guests listened spellbound as she shared one unbelievable episode after the other on how she coped and what she had to contend with.
She focused on difficult circumstance; ranging from the elephant herd which became their family, but which was in danger of being culled, a lost baby elephant, orphaned rhinos and also hippos; and of course, the dangers and tragedy of poaching. “To solve wildlife issues we must address human problems”
How she protected the herd and accounts of the behaviour of the elephant herd defies imagination;
The Elephant Herd Grieves
The stories ranged from heartwarming and emotional to humorous – how the herd arrived at the homestead to grieve with Francoise on the loss of her husband, the hippo who was afraid of water, the baby rhino who shared her bed – and the baby elephant, only one week old, who somehow became separated from the herd and spent the night with Francoise in her kitchen whilst being fed and cared for. The little one was happily reunited with her Mom the next day.
‘Follow your dreams, they know the way” is the title of a chapter in her book. So much has been achieved in Thula Thula. Francoise dreamt of an animal orphanage for abandoned and rescued young animals was opened.
Lawrence’s vision of creating a huge conservation area into a growing, sustainable legacy for generations to come, is coming to fruition with two expansion projects on the horizon. A volunteer camp has been opened where people from all over the world, along with youngsters from local communities will live in simple tents that will bring them close to nature and wildlife and where they will be taught the ways of the bush in order to learn the value of conservation.
The game reserve comprises 4 500 ha which will be increased to 6 500 ha. The Thula Thula Wild Team comprises 60 wonderful people who all share the same passion.
How did Francoise manage?
“It’s all about a passion which makes it worth fighting for.”
Thula Thula is, and always will be my home”