Buthelezi: Continue Elephant Whisperer’s cause

2012-03-09 00:00

WHEN conservationist Lawrence Anthony died, the planet lost one of its greatest ever champions — and it’s now up to those he left behind to continue his fight.

That was the heart of a deeply personal tribute delivered by Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi at Anthony’s funeral service at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban yesterday. Anthony died on March 2.

“If we were to call Lawrence Anthony a great son of Africa, we would not have begun to describe the unique nature of the man,” said Buthelezi, who flew in from Cape Town especially for the service.

“Lawrence was a remarkable man … He embraced life with enthusiasm and … his passion for the protection of animals inspired him to go where few would have gone, and do what few would have done.”

Among his many achievements, Anthony, who owned the Thula Thula Game Reserve, created two new reserves — the Royal Zulu project, south of the Umfolozi Game Reserve, which involves five local communities, and the Mayibuye Community Game reserve at Camperdown; worked with traditional leaders in Zululand to promote conservation; and founded the Earth Organisation, which, after just five years, operates in 25 countries.

Among those who paid tribute to Anthony at the funeral were SABC chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane, who described him as a unique human being and world-renowned leader in nature conservation; and close friend J.P. Fourie, who worked with him on his campaign to save the Northern White Rhino.

Fourie said: “Lawrence chose to be involved in matters that lay close to his heart, and I think that was because it was how he knew to live best. With his heart. Listening to it, and acting to it.”

A well-known author, Anthony’s mission to rescue animals trapped in the Baghdad Zoo in the 2003 Iraq war was captured in Babylon’s Ark; while The Elephant Whisperer showcased his work rehabilitating rogue elephants.

His latest literary offering, The Last Rhinos, is, Buthelezi said, a “lasting gift to all of us who are engaged in the ongoing struggle to protect this species”.

Ultimately, however, it was his family who meant the most to him and inspired him each and every day, his brother, Gavin said.

His youngest son, Dylan, described his dad as a giant amongst giants”, while his other son, Jason, said he was often in awe at what his father had achieved.

“What a way to live, to wake up every day and find new challenges, new possibilities. Not a week went by when he didn’t call me about an amazing story or to say that he wanted to go on a new adventure,” Jason added.

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