Elephants Never Forget – Will We?
“The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?”
Last week two unrelated friends told me that they are headed to Africa on safari. It took me back to my own safari experience several years ago. In the past decade, my husband and I have traveled to many amazing places. But of all our adventures, my favorite without question was Africa. We spent three weeks surrounded by the most incredible wild animals, all of whom were for the most part totally disinterested in us. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, gazelles, impalas, hyenas, monkeys, zebras, giraffes, water buffalo, hippos, crocodiles, rhinos, elands, sables…we saw them all. We also saw a myriad of birds both beautiful and bizarre. Every moment, and every sighting, was awe-inspiring; as was the enormous, star-filled African sky. But it was the elephants, hundreds of them, that took my breath away.
I was amazed at how their emotions seemed to so closely resemble our own. They were loving….
Caring and protective of their young……
And seemingly, always offering interesting poses for our lenses.
African elephants are the world’s largest land mammal, and are fond of water, often spraying themselves to the delight of the photographers.
Besides spraying, their trunks can be used for smelling, drinking, breathing, trumpeting, and grabbing things. When they swim under water their trunks provide a convenient snorkel.
They carry their babies for almost 2 years before giving birth – and their calves weigh 200+ pounds – YIKES.
Elephants can be their own worst enemies, destroying their diminishing habitat in order to feed themselves and their families. This combined with human encroachment and continued poaching for their ivory tusks has made them a focus for conservation efforts around the world. We can only hope that these efforts succeed; the world would be a lesser place without these gentle giants. There was a story this year about elephant preservationist Lawrence Anthony, who worked among them for many years. When he died it is said that the herd he worked with walked for three days to reach his home, and spent two days there mourning his loss. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
“Nature’s great masterpiece, the elephant, the only harmless great thing.”