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The Secret Elephants Forest Experience is Back!

Join Gareth Patterson, award-winning environmentalist, wildlife expert and author of the acclaimed books, My Lion's Heart, The Secret Elephants (which tells of Gareth's rediscovery of the Knysna elephants) and the recently published sequel, Beyond the Secret Elephants, on a unique and personalized experience in the Knysna forest., exploring the magical and mystical world of the Knysna elephants - the most southerly free-roaming elephants on Earth.

Length and duration of the forest experience. The 45 km drive, which is incorporated with exploratory forest strolls, takes approximately two to three hours. During the driving stages, Gareth, leading the way in his vehicle, will be communicating with you via two-way radios.

This is a very personalized forest experience (one vehicle per experience), therefore usually the maximum number of participants is five (but more depending on your vehicle), and a minimum of two.

The Secret Elephants Forest Experience takes place week days and weekends (subject to available dates).

For enquiries/bookings, please email - 

Here is a link to an Africa Geographic article about The Secret Elephants Forest Experience-

Link to a recent article and video about Gareth's new book, Beyond the Secret Elephants-

Gareth's website -

The Secret Elephants Forest Experience video clip -


Storytelling by Gareth at his Cabin Home on the Edge of the Knysna Forest, South Africa. For details, please email - 



Here is the link to a recent newspaper article (The Herald - South Africa, 22nd June) about my research and current book. I hope you find it interesting.

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Celebrating Elephants - World Elephant Day 2020


Speaking recently about my experiences with elephants, lions and the mysterious otang on the UK radio show, The Unexplained, with host, Howard Hughes. 


Thank you Howard for inviting me to be on the show.


Here is the link below, and I hope you find the interview interesting!

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Here is the link to my recent interview on Bigfoot and Beyond with Cliff and Bobo. I hope you enjoy listening to it!


Bigfoot and Beyond is a weekly podcast hosted by Cliff Barackman and James 'Bobo' Fay of Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot.


Thank you to Cliff and Bobo for having me on the show. It was great chatting with you both.



Recent review of my current book, Beyond the Secret Elephants, in the Relict Hominoid Inquiry (RHI). Review by the Editor of the RHI, Dr. Jeff Meldrum, Professor of Anatomy and Anthropology at Idaho State University.


Here below is the link, and I hope you enjoy reading the book!


The objective of the RHI is to promote research and provide a refereed venue for the dissemination of scholarly peer-reviewed papers exploring and evaluating the possible existence and nature of relict hominoid species around the world.

Beyond the Secret Elephants is also available in Kindle Edition format on Amazon



Planet of the Mystery Apes, Chapter 1.

South Africa's Otang.


Matt Pruitt, researcher and host of Apes Among Us, recently interviewed me about my work with lions, elephants, the mysterious otang, and about my new book, Beyond the Secret Elephants.

During this lock-down period, I hope you really enjoy this hour long podcast interview 

Many thanks Matt.

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Well known for his work on the African lion, Gareth Patterson is an environmentalist, independent wildlife researcher and author who has worked tirelessly for more than twenty-five years for the greater protection of African wildlife. Patterson’s love for the wild has spurred various projects surrounding animal rights. He is the author of Cry for the Lions (1989), Where the Lion Walked (1991), The Lions’ Legacy (1991), Last of the Free (1994), With My Soul Amongst Lions (1995), Dying to be Free (1998) Making a Killing (2000) To Walk with Lions (2001) and The Secret Elephants (2010). He lives on the edge of the Knysna forest, where he rediscovered and studied, the most southerly elephants on earth - the elusive Knysna elephants.






A great review of my new book, Beyond the Secret Elephants.

Thank you Martin Hatchuel 


Also a video of an amazing and very moving eyewitness report of the existence of the relict hominoid, otang, as told in the new book.


Thank you Thembela. Brave of you my friend. This was at the recent launch of the book in Knysna.


Please see the link below for both:

Happy New Year Everyone!


A new year, and a new book - Beyond the Secret Elephants, the sequel of The Secret Elephants.


Here is a preview of the cover!


Available in-store in southern Africa week of January 20.

For international orders from Amazon, the book will be available as an



Exciting news! The Kindle version of my new book, Beyond the Secret Elephants (Tracey McDonald Publishers), is now up on Amazon (please see the link below).


The book will be available in-store in Southern Africa end of next week!

15/12/2019. The Secret Elephants Forest Experience. 


With the arrival of summer, and the completion of my new book, Beyond the Secret Elephants (sequel of The Secret Elephants), I am once again conducting with guests my Secret Elephants Forest Experience.


For enquiries/bookings, please email me at


Thanks to my guests (repeat guests!) Dirk and Daniela for the use of your photos here from a recent forest experience. It was great to share the forest experience with you both again!

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I am very proud this week. The other day I learnt that my book about my rediscovery of the amazing Knysna Elephants, 'The Secret Elephants' (Penguin Books) has just gone into its fifth reprint. It was first published back in 2009 - a decade ago. The book has not made me a millionaire as I plow what I earn from books back into my wildlife work/research, but I am really thrilled about the awareness this book has created about these special elephants, and elephants in general. I am presently working on the sequel - 'Beyond the Secret Elephants'.


My thanks to everyone who have read this book over the past decade!


Those of you who might like to join me on The Secret Elephants Forest Experience, please email me at for details.

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Scenes from one of my recent Secret Elephants Forest Experiences - with great guests, Dirk and Daniela.

For information on how you can also join me on The Secret Elephants Forest Experience, please email -



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The Garden Route Wildfires and the Knysna Elephants - the worlds most southerly free roaming elephants.


With the news of the recent Garden Route wildfires, readers of my book The Secret Elephants, have over the past two weeks or so, contacted me enquiring about how the tiny Knysna elephant population (the world's most southerly free roaming elephants) might have been affected by the wildfires in the mountains (mountain fynbos comprises a large area of the Knysna elephants range, and fynbos species are a significant part of the elephants diet).


While the fires raged, I felt fairly confident that the Knysna elephants would have sought refuge from the mountain wildfires deep within the naturally protected indigenous forests - but I could not begin to determine this until this last Saturday (10/11/2018) when with the mopping up operations, I could begin to look for signs of the elephants.


Happily I can now confirm that from signs (spoor, droppings and feeding sign) I found in the forest between Diepwalle and Gouna, it seems that two of the elephants (one approximately 17 - 18 years old - age determined by hind foot track measurement, and the other being an older adult) moved together south into deep indigenous forest, and away from the mountain wildfires, approximately a week to ten days ago.


Should this be indicative (which I believe it could be) of the cautionary/intuitive reaction to the wildfires by other Knysna elephants, then I am fairly sure the elephants are safe. That said, of course, one cannot be entirely sure until overall assessments of the impact of the wildfires are completed. I am optimistic though.


Update 14/11/2018


While conducting one of my Secret Elephants Forest Experiences with guests yesterday, I found more signs of the two elephants that are moving together. Measurements of the hind foot track of the larger adult suggests that this elephant could be an adult bull. The two elephants had moved southwards then westwards into the central deep forest area. It seems, though I cannot confirm, that one other elephant is also in this part of the central forest area. Hopefully signs of the other elephants will be seen in other forest areas in the western portions of the elephants range.


Many thanks to Christa and Gilly for the use of photos taken last Saturday and yesterday - elephant footprints in mud puddle, Saturday, measuring hind foot tracks yesterday etc.


For information about the Secret Elephants Forest Experience, please email




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Donate Today! Gareth Patterson's Beyond the Secret Elephants research and book project.


Through the BackaBuddy crowdfunding platform, I am raising much needed funds for my Beyond the Secret Elephants research and book project. Beyond the Secret Elephants, the sequel to my book, The Secret Elephants, will not only update the story of the Knysna elephants, but for the very first time will reveal extraordinary information about other mysterious beings that I have discovered are also inhabiting the Knysna elephants forest and mountain fynbos home...  


To know more about this exciting project and how you can contribute, please go the following BackaBuddy link . 


Many thanks to those of you who have already donated. Much appreciated.

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Sustainable Jungle is a wonderful eco-awareness platform.

Here follows the link to Sustainable Jungle's podcast episode number 24 -


My thanks to Joy and Lyall of Sustainable Jungle for producing this lovely episode.


I hope you all enjoy listening to it.


This interview is dedicated to my bush dog, Tuli, who passed away on July 26th 2018.

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Some very exciting news. I have just linked up with BackaBuddy (NPC) to fundraise for my Beyond the Secret Elephants research and book project. Here is the link for you to learn more and how to contribute - 

Many thanks.

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Born to be Free and The Secret Elephants.


Signing copies of my newly released children's book, Born to be Free, at my local book shop, Bargain Books, in Knysna, South Africa. I was also signing copies of my book The Secret Elephants. This book is about my rediscovery of the amazing Knysna elephants, the world's most southerly elephants. I am very proud of The Secret Elephants. It was first published back in 2009, and recently has gone into its fifth reprint edition. Currently I am working on the sequel, Beyond the Secret Elephants.

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Update on my soon to be released children's book, Born to be Free (Jacana Media). 

 I am very excited about this new book.

The very special photo here is from the book. Never published before, it shows Adamson lioness, Rafiki, with her newly born first litter of cubs. 

Below is an excerpt from the Preface of Born to be Free.

The title of this book is Born to be Free and that is what all lions and other wild animals should be – free. Free to live their lives in the wild as nature intended. Rafiki's story shows how important it is for lions to be free – and that we should protect them from harm. The African wilds would no longer be the same if all the lions were gone. What would we say to our children's children if the last lion was gone – forever gone?

That is why all of us, the young and everyone else, must hold the lion in our hearts, and do our best to protect Rafiki's kind.


- Gareth Patterson

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My new book, my very first children's book, Born to be Free, will be released in South Africa the first week in May! So, so important to connect children with Nature. Nature is what ultimately we all depend on. Nature is our mother. Will be posting updates about the book soon.

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Garden Route Walking Festival 2018. Gareth Patterson's Secret Elephants Forest Experience.

Upcoming Garden Route Walking Festival 30th March - 2nd April 2018. Fantastic walks in the wilds. I will be doing my Secret Elephants Forest Experience each day over the Easter weekend. 


Please see the following website for details - . For bookings for my forest experience, please email


The Secret Elephant Forest Experience takes place most weekends, but can usually also be arranged for during the week.

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Excellent day of adventure yesterday with three great guests on my Secret Elephants Forest Experience. Knysna elephants x 2 (possibly 3) had been very busy pulling trees across the forest trail. Circumference of dung indicates age of elephant. At 42 cm, this suggests one of the elephants is approximately 16 years old. Elephants ripped a research trail camera from a tree. The elusive Knysna elephants are the world's most southerly elephants. Many thanks Heloise for the great photos. Should you like to know more about the Secret Elephants Forest Experience, please email 

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My bush dog Tuli yesterday looking over 'her' domain, and that of the elusive Knysna elephants!


The wild surrounds are now looking green again, and I am taking bookings for my Secret Elephants Forest Experience.


For more information about the Secret Elephants Forest Experience, please email

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Wishing everyone a Wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Here is a little taste of what to expect in April/May 2018. My new book! Born to be Free (Jacana Media), a children's book for seven year olds and upwards. I am very proud of this. The cover photo of the cubs is by my wildlife photographer friend, Karien Eigner, taken in the Serengeti.

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22/7/2017. After the Knysna wildfires.


Photo of my bush dog, Tuli, in a long cooled off burnt area. After much patrolling on the southern edge of the Knysna forest, thankfully, I have not come across any wildlife fatalities because of the fires. 


Leopard, bushbuck, porcupine, baboon, mongoose and other creatures are now venturing back into the area.


I am busy back doing my Secret Elephants Forest Experience - for more information about the forest experience, please email


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Knysna fires. Scenes from the edge of the Knysna Forest.

The large range of the Knysna elephants - comprising of hundreds of square kilometers of indigenous forest and mountain fynbos - was unaffected by the recent devastating Knysna wildfires. I am confident that the elephants are fine. This morning I was walking on hills on the edge of the southern Knysna forests, in areas of former (felled) pine plantations. Looking north over the elephants range, it was uplifting to see the vista was unchanged, unlike the areas where I was walking. Here are a few scenes from the hills. I saw a forest buzzard launch itself from a solitary tree. There were the footprints of small creatures such as genet and other animals, and in the north the elephants range looked magnificent.
Nearby, where I live, our resident family of vervet monkeys reappeared after the fires - they had made it too. As did our francolin and guineafowl families. And it was even reported that a leopard was seen nearby the other morning.




Forest, fynbos and mountains. The amazing range and home of the world's most southerly (and most secretive) elephants. The Knysna elephants.


And one elephant mangled gate!


So blessed to live here, and to have studied these amazing elephants.


Last week while doing one of my The Secret Elephant Forest Experiences with Trish Carter of Knysna Stays Guest House ( and guests, we heard one of these elusive elephants feeding less than fifty meters away from where we were walking in the forest.


For information about The Secret Elephants Forest Experience, please email


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The Secret Elephants Forest Experience with Gareth Patterson.


Lovely photos from a Secret Elephants Forest Experience last week with Hermien van Schalkwyk and friends.


With us was excellent professional guide, Pete Collins of Venture Beyond Tours and Trails (note the tiny Knysna dwarf chameleon on Pete's hand - a forest dweller, and is endemic to this area. This little one was picked up from the track and put back into the safety of the forest).


For information about my Secret Elephants Forest Experience trips into the magical forest and fynbos home of the elusive Knysna Elephants, please email .


Thank you Hermien for the photos, and it was great meeting you all. 




Gareth Patterson, winner of the SAB Environmentalist of the Year Award 2016 .




Forest Legends article by Martin Hatchuel. Garden Route Guide.

Knysna elephants and Gareth Patterson's Secret Elephants Forest Experience.




Gareth's recent Sky World News interview about the ADI rescue and airlift of the 33 lions to South Africa -



With certain relevance to the heartfelt events concerning elephants and lions this last weekend (30/4/2016), here below is an interview Gareth did for the May edition of the spiritual magazine, Aneis de Vida. 




A Special Earth Day Interview with Gareth Patterson, by Lisa Wogan, The Story by Kindle.


The Writer who Roared. In Recognition of Earth Day 2016.




The Secret Elephants Forest Experience.


Gareth Patterson, award-winning wildlife expert, and author of the acclaimed books, My Lion’s Heart and The Secret Elephants, (which tells of Gareth's rediscovery of the Knysna elephants) will be hosting once again a unique experience in the Knysna forest. Each forest experience is limited to a maximum of six people, and explores the magical and mystical world of the Knysna elephants, the world's most southerly elephants. Limited availability. 


For more information, please email: .


Forest Experience video clip -

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© Karien Eigner

12/7/2015. Update on Gareth's Work. For an update of Gareth's recent projects and activities (January to July 2015), please see the Current Project section of this website.




© Conservation Global


Knysna. March 14 2015. Day after the Global March for Lions.


Gareth gave a lecture on his life with lions to international students of Franklin University, Switzerland. Happy faces after hearing about Australia's total ban on the importation of lion trophies! Well done Australia, and may the EU and USA follow soon. 




23/10/2014 -  Gareth Patterson.

Tracy McDonald Publishers invites to you the launch Gareth Patterson's autobiography









16/10/2014 -  Gareth Patterson.

An evening with Gareth Patterson









Book Trailer Video of My Lion's Heart. The book trailer video of Gareth's new book, My Lion's Heart. The book will be released in October 2014.






20/09/2014 -  My Lion's Heart.

For readers living in Africa, the of My Lion’s Heart is now available for download from Amazon.









Breaking News




“My Lion's Heart is my tenth book, and is probably the most important book I have written. It tells my life story, a story of tears and smiles, about my attempts to greater protect the iconic animal symbol of this continent, the African lion. I am absolutely delighted that Tracey McDonald Publishers will be publishing My Lion's Heart.” For more information about My Lion's Heart, please visit the book’s page on





'Lion Man' Launches New Environmental Initiative


Gareth Patterson, known internationally for his work to greater protect the African lion, has launched the Sekai African Environmentalism Group  


''Sekai is dedicated to the renaissance of African environmental beliefs and values, and promotes the importance of indigenous environmentalism in today's Africa'' said Patterson.


''We need to create awareness that the demand for ivory, rhino horn and lion bones, is not an African demand, but that of the East and the West. Also, it must be understood that Western trophy hunting is un-African, and is an outdated notion from the colonial past. Africa is left poorer because of these foreign demands''.


Patterson said '' By reviving and drawing on indigenous African environmental beliefs and values, this can make a vital difference today in the preservation of the continent's wildlife and wild places''. 


Exciting News! 10/6/13

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Seven of Gareth’s books are now available on Amazon as e-books. Customers in the UK should use, and customers elsewhere including South Africa should use


Booking Gareth Patterson for Talks and Presentations.

Having completed the first draft of his new book, an autobiography, Gareth is once again available for speaking engagements in South Africa and internationally. Gareth's exciting new presentation is entitled “Inspiration from the Wild - a Life with the Lions and Elephants of Africa.”


To book Gareth for talks and presentations, please email






With the recent release of my current book, The Secret Elephants, as an eBook,, I want to share some scenes from the documentary, The Search for the Knysna Elephants. This documentary was beautifully filmed by my friend, Mark van Wijk, and produced by NHU Africa. Please view the scenes from the documentary at







Gareth talks about his life with lions on


The following song, “Dying to be Free” is based on my book of the same title. This song project was an collaboration between the wonderful singer/song-writer, Anouschka, and myself. Through this moving song we hope to create awareness about the great harm created by canned lion hunting in South Africa and trophy hunting in general. The lyrics tell the true story of a lioness, known as the “Dark Lioness.”



© 2013 Gareth Patterson

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