Francoise Malby (40) is a French fashion designer living in London. She meets a charming businessman, Lawrence Anthony (50) in a restaurant. After a romantic evening together Lawrence has a mild heart attack. To thank her for staying by his bedside for days on end he invites Francoise to his home, Zulu land. After a romantic sojourn, Lawrence buys a game reserve and attempts to unite the neighbouring Zulu tribal lands into one large game reserve. Although welcomed by a young dynamic chief Nkosi (35), elder Tetstwayo (50) is more in favour of the lucrative mining offers for the vast quantities of coal beneath the land. Lawrence sways the chiefs with the idea of returning elephant to the land and the game reserve called Thula Thula is formed.
The elephants turn rogue and break out destroying tribal houses – even bringing down a helicopter and Lawrence nearly loses his life as he confronts the matriarch Nana. The bill for their capture weighs heavily on their struggling finances and Lawrence decides to move into the bush and live with them. Lawrence’s attempts fail miserably until he is tricked and pulled into the electric fence by Nana and nearly loses his life. Francoise, fearing for his life and her future family, drives up country and meets a researcher who tells her of their traumatic past, the elephants are beyond redemption.
She gives Francoise audio recordings of Nana, her murdered son and other elephants. Francoise returns home and falls ill with malaria. Lawrence plays the tape of Nana’s son and the elephants go wild. Nana calms down and understands that Lawrence knows their past. She touches him through the fence and touches his heart, perhaps knowingly. Francoise has renewed hopes that Lawrence will focus more attention on the lodge and their new family. Lawrence agrees to look after his heart and has stent surgery. The tourists soon follow but shortly after there is an arson attack on the lodge and it burns to the ground. Foul play is suspected. With no insurance they are practically bankrupt and have to borrow petrol for a game drive. The chiefs are mounting pressure for financial resolve and are starting to veer for the mining alternative.
Mnumzane, the only bull, starts acting strangely and attacks a game vehicle with tourists. Baby Thula is born but nearly dies and Francoise nurtures her back to health. With the mounting stress of bankruptcy Lawrence leaves for London to find investors.
On his return to the game reserve the elephants are found waiting for him at the house. The investors arrive but are attacked by Mnumzane whilst out on a game drive. The brutal attack nearly kills them and Francoise convinces Lawrence that Mnumzane should be killed. Nana and the herd are distraught and Lawrence’s bond is broken.
Bheki finds darts in the veld and links it back to Mnumzane’s violent behaviour. Francoise believes Tetswayo to be behind the attacks and devises a trap capturing a poacher who confesses that Tetswayo is behind the sabotage. Lawrence confronts Tetswayo ignoring Francoise’s pleas. Lawrence escapes alive, but men, believed to be from the mining company, pursue Lawrence and set fire to the game reserve.
The elephants are trapped but Lawrence senses them and saves them by guiding them through the fire. The fire engulfs the house and Francoise flees with Thula. She finds safety in Mkhulu dam where she finds the elephants and the crumpled figure of Lawrence, who has died of a heart attack. With the game reserve burnt and in financial ruin the elephants and land are to be auctioned off. The elephants pay vigil at Lawrence’s house for days on end without eating or drinking. Francoise rallies the chiefs together to fight for a place for elephants in the modern world. As the sheriff arrives to load up the elephants Francoise, the chiefs and all the local people surround the elephants and protect them. The news makes headlines around the world and the investors return. The game reserves finances are secured and Francoise takes her place as the matriarch of the herd and Thula Thula game reserve.