Thula Thula

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Thula Thula Private Game Reserve
Map showing the location of Thula Thula Private Game Reserve
Map showing the location of Thula Thula Private Game Reserve
Location of the reserve
Location KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa
Nearest town Empangeni, South Africa
Coordinates 28°35′24″S 31°45′27″E / 28.59000°S 31.75750°E / -28.59000; 31.75750Coordinates: 28°35′24″S 31°45′27″E / 28.59000°S 31.75750°E / -28.59000; 31.75750
Area 4500ha
Established 1911

Thula Thula Private Game Reserve is a private game reserve situated in Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. It is part of the Royal Zulu Biosphere.

Thula Thula means ‘peace and tranquility’ in Zulu.


Thula Thula was once the private hunting grounds of the mighty Zulu Warrior, King Shaka. The first historic meeting between Shaka and his father, Senzangakhona, which set the stage for the creation of the Zulu Nation.[1] took place at the Nseleni River at Thula Thula.

The land became a game reserve in 1911 and is believed[by whom?] to be the oldest private game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.

In 2009, under the leadership of Anthony, the preserve joined two others to form a contiguous 500,000 acre preserve called the Royal Zulu Biosphere, which includes the Umfolozi Hluhluwe Reserve and the Mayibuye Game Reserve.


Thula Thula is owned by international conservationist and founder of the Earth Organization, Lawrence Anthony,[2] and his wife Francoise Malby-Anthony. Anthony died in 2012 and the reserve is now run by his wife and family. The reserve is the setting for Lawrence's books The Elephant Whisperer (2009)[3] and The Last Rhino (2012).


Thula Thula is home to a wide variety of animals, including African elephant, buffalo, white rhino, leopard, giraffe, zebra, nyala, hyena, crocodile, kudu, wildebeest as well as other indigenous species. Over 350 species of birdlife has been identified, including vultures.


In 1999 Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of 'rogue' wild elephants from Mpumalanga onto Thula Thula which were destined to be shot unless alternative arrangements could be made. The herd was housed in a boma on Thula Thula but managed to break free and escape. The elephants were successfully tracked, recovered and transported back to Thula Thula. The story of their rehabilitation and Lawrence's subsequent relationship with the herd is told in his book The Elephant Whisperer. The elephant herd, including Nana, Frankie and Mabula are still at Thula Thula as of 2009.[4]


  1. ^ "Bio Shaka Zulu". 
  2. ^ "Earth Organization". 
  3. ^ Anthony, Lawrence; Spence Graham (April 2009). The Elephant Whisperer. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-330-50668-7. 
  4. ^ David Adam (22 February 2009). "The Elephant man". Retrieved 29 November 2010. 

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