30 April, 2009

Elephants: the Greatest living creatures

I can not think of any other living creature that is as awesome to look at and yet so gentle, majestic and noble as elephants. I have seen African elephants at close range many times, and yet, I am awed and have to stare and gawk at these incredible creatures whenever I see them. I quote from the movie White Hunter Black Heart:

I've never seen one before,
outside the circus or the zoo.

They're so majestic. So indestructible.
They're part of the earth.

They make us feel like perverse little
creatures from another planet.

Without any dignity.

Makes one believe in God.

In the miracle of creation.


They're part of a world
that no longer exists, Hod.

Feeling of unconquerable time.

How true. Facts about elephants, are amazing. Elephants are incredibly social creatures who have lasting memories, and can communicate over long distances through low range sound waves; they can cry, play, have incredible memories, and can even laugh; and they grieve at a loss of a stillborn baby, a family member, and in many cases other elephants.

And yet there are those who, to fulfill there selfish goals and for profit - have no qualms and are so merciless that they can and do slaughter these great creatures. One can understand Zimbabweans, due to their hunger plight, slaughtering elephants for meat; but for a few men to slaughter tens of elephants for profit, that is cruel and abhorrent.

And that is what has just happened in Kenya: two wildlife crime suspects have pleaded guilty to charges of illegal possession of ivory. The actual value of the ivory is incalculable bearing in mind that it was extracted from 35 to 40 murdered elephants. The haul of ivory represents a huge toll on the Kenyan tourism industry as well as the ecosystems from which the elephants lived. This is a major setback to Kenyan efforts to the recovery of elephant populations after elephant numbers dropped from 167,000 in 1963 to the current 33,000.

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