Oct 222012
 

Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Mike Procter.
Voice 2

And I’m Anne Muir. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

[audio:http://spotlightradio.net/media/audio/lo/se-5301m.mp3|titles=Spotlight – Lawrence Anthony: Elephant Whisperer]

Voice 1

In South Africa a group of elephants starts to walk slowly across the land. These large grey animals walk for more than 12 hours. Their long noses or trunks move from side to side as they walk. This group or herd of elephants goes to the home of their human friend. They have not been there for about two years. But they seem to sense that something has happened.
Voice 2

Something has happened – their human friend has just died. The elephants seem to mourn his death. They seem to be honouring him. But who was this man? And why was he special to the elephants? Today’s Spotlight is on this man. His name was Lawrence Anthony. Many people called him ‘The Elephant Whisperer’. He was a friend to many wild animals.
Voice 1

Lawrence Anthony lived in Zululand, South Africa. He was a conservationist. He worked to protect wild animals and the places they live. He owned a game reserve called Thula Thula. This very large area of land is used to protect wild animals. Such animals do well in game reserves because they can live in their natural environment.
Voice 2

In 1999, an animal organisation talked to Lawrence Anthony. They told him about a herd of elephants. These elephants were a big problem. They were very dangerous. They charged, or ran at vehicles and people. The elephants were so dangerous that the authorities would have to kill them. But Anthony did not want that to happen. He wanted to save the elephants. So he decided to give them a home at Thula Thula.
Voice 1

The elephants arrived at Thula Thula in a big truck. They were released into a special area for keeping animals. This area had strong fences. The elephants would get an electric shock if they touched the fence. But still the elephants escaped.
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Anthony had to find the elephants. They had left the safety of Thula Thula. Other people would shoot the elephants if he did not find them. After many days he found them. But they had destroyed more property. And they had charged at another man. They were very dangerous.
Voice 1

Anthony brought the elephants home to Thula Thula again. This time he tried something different. He decided to live with the elephants!
Voice 2

He lived and slept by the elephants for many weeks. But he did not go too close. The elephants got angry if he came too near. But Anthony would sing and talk. He did this for a particular purpose. He wanted the elephants to trust him. He told the BBC World Service:
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‘I would walk around talking to myself. I tried to get them used to my voice. Sometimes I would sing. I would be there for weeks.’
Voice 1

After a little while the elephants let him come closer to the fence. He talked to them as if they were people. He told them they were in their new home. He told them that they would be happy. He wanted to persuade the elephants to stay in Thula Thula.
Voice 2

The leader of the elephants was a female called Nana. Nana was the matriarch. Anthony concentrated his efforts on her. As the weeks passed Nana let him move nearer and nearer. Then one day she put her long trunk through the fence. Anthony moved closer. She reached out. And Nana touched Anthony with her trunk! She had accepted him. Anthony said that everything changed after this happened. He discovered that all the other elephants accepted him too. He told the BBC World Service:
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‘I began to understand that once the matriarch makes a decision she communicates it to the herd. The next day there was no tension. The elephants were calm.’
Voice 1

That day Anthony released the elephants from the fenced area. This was a big decision. If the elephants left Thula Thula they would be shot and killed. But it worked. The elephants knew how to escape. But they chose to stay.
Voice 2

Anthony formed a very special link with the elephants. They became very close. They were friends. His son, Jason, told BBC Radio 4:
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‘He could stand and call to them. And call and call and call. And they would come and touch him. An amazing relationship!’
Voice 1

Anthony had a special relationship with elephants. But he wanted to protect other animals too. In 2003, he saw television news of the bombing of Baghdad, Iraq. He knew that there was a big zoo there. He discovered that no-one planned to save the zoo animals. So he decided to save them himself!
Voice 2

He flew to Kuwait. There he collected supplies. He drove to the border of Kuwait and Iraq. The guards at the border were very surprised to see him. Iraq was a war area. Everyone else was trying to leave Iraq. But Anthony was trying to enter. He explained that he was going to rescue the zoo animals. The guard said that the idea was insane. But he let Anthony into Iraq.
Voice 1

Anthony got to Baghdad. He saw ruined buildings. And he heard gunfire. There was still fighting in the city. But Anthony found the zoo. It was wrecked. Anthony saw many dead animals. Flies were all around them. Other zoo animals had been eaten by local people. But dangerous animals such as lions and tigers had survived. However these animals were deeply shocked. And they were starving.
Voice 2

Anthony and some helpers immediately began to save the animals. Anthony bought donkeys to feed the zoo animals. He paid zoo workers to return to work. It was hard work repairing the zoo. Soon American soldiers started to help. A few weeks later former Iraqi soldiers helped too. These men had been killing each other on the battlefield only recently. Anthony told the BBC:
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‘American soldiers were fighting during the day. They put down their weapons at night. Then they would come across to the zoo and help. I was watching American soldiers and Iraqi soldiers both working to help these animals. Completely amazing.’
Voice 1

Anthony stayed in Baghdad for six months. When he left the animals were healthy and the zoo was clean. The zoo had been saved.
Voice 2

Anthony’s work protecting animals could be dangerous. But he learned a lot from animals. In his book ‘Elephant Whisperer’ he explained:
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‘They taught me that all life forms are important to each other. There is more to life than just yourself, your family, or your kind.’
Voice 1

The writer of this programme was Katy Blake. The producer was Nick Mangeolles. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programmes on the internet at http://www.radioenglish.net This .programme is called ‘Lawrence Anthony: Elephant Whisperer.’
Voice 2

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight programme. Goodbye.

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