Have you noticed that we as humans have this tendency to break down the world into something digestible so that we can manipulate it with our minds? Not realising that the riske heuristic has the ability to close our minds. Any interruption becomes annoyance. A fertile enough ground to breed attitudes debilitating progress.
As if breaking out of the reverie, driving down a highway, far into the wilderness, braked screechingly. There before us was this huge masterpiece of Nature, in all its glory. Ele-phant, literally meaning Huge-arch in Latin. A light as if turned on inside. We stood inquisitively looking at each other. Intently watching, as if for signs of recognition.Elephantine memory , from a previous birth maybe? Who knows. Its just that this majestic intelligent animal had a strange effect on me.
He must have been around 9 ft tall (baby?) and in absolutely no hurry to go anywhere. It was as if he had condescended to grant us a privileged 'close up encouter' at leisure. We looked for something to feed him, as a token of gratitude for his largesse I suppose. All we could find in the middle of nowhere were knick knacks, biscuits and such like. Placing them in his trunk seemed a daunting task. So , carefully placed them within trunkable distance! And then came the struggle to get the biscuit into the fold and into his mouth. The hilarity of the situation was unmistakable.
A few clicks on our camera with each posing with the maharajah and we were on our way, smiling at the closeness of the bond which seemed to have developed . Animals and humans, so near yet so far? What is it that has brought on the distance?
This morning, however, pain and sadness could not be pried apart. Read this report.
I somehow felt responsible and ashamed at the destruction caused by our ignorance. How could they be blamed for the horror of land grab that made them homeless and agitated. There had to be answers. As if to perpetuate the memory of my chance encounter discovered this write up by an elephant lover who has dedicated her life to their conservation. What I read there only confirmed why the bond seemed so real and tangible.
"Each one is, of course, like us, a unique individual with its own unique personality. They can be happy or sad, volatile or placid. They display envy, jealousy, throw tantrums and are fiercely competitive, and they can develop hang-ups which are reflected in behaviour. They also have many additional attributes we humans lack; incredible long range infrasound, communicating in voices we never hear, such sophisticated hearing that even a footfall is heard far away, and, of course they have a memory that far surpasses ours and spans a lifetime. They grieve deeply for lost loved ones, even shedding tears and suffering depression. They have a sense of compassion that projects beyond their own kind and sometimes extends to others in distress. They help one another in adversity, miss an absent loved one, and when you know them really well, you can see that they even smile when having fun and are happy."
And they are now dying.. being killed for greed. I cannot bear to look at the ivory inlay table and ignore the horror that could have led to it being there. There are just about 30,000 left in India. In botswana they are being hunted out as they are perceived as a threat to the natural habitat of man!!
So the next time we go to the zoo or to a circus all we have to do is remember that an elephant grazes upto 20 hours a day in its own environment. Here it is kept in chains, without water and food to perform for 'fools' ( ask them what they feel about us from up there).
We as a collective people must take a stand and open our hearts and minds to obliterate ignorance that leads to destruction and finally extinction of another 'Masterpiece Of nature".. the gentlest and Largest of all land mammals.
Wonder what will ensue when bones of humans will sell in parity with ivory and space for humans will diminish?