Magical families…human and elephant

I write down all my memories. I explain the serenity and solace of untrampled lands and the pure joy of experiencing the melody of silence. The awe ones feels when in the presence of  wildlife in the bush and the thrill of speeding up an untamed river. This I am doing for my grand children as I weave the threads and play a part in their life journeys.


They both know right from wrong and I encourage questions feeling like I need a bigger bra when Kayleigh (6) writes some profound words on life and on passing her little note to her mum, asks her to post it to Africa. While I am teaching them that they are the authors of their lives, and that each day is a new page, my heart pounds like a heavy hammer against my rib cage. Corruption and greed is fast destroying these same links in the fascinating world of elephants.

letter from Kays

I love the erth. It is the most specolest planet ever. Love Kayleigh. I liv in the UK. KBJ loves elees.

This money for the elees. To save the world.

(Took a few repeats from the author and rolling of eyes towards the ceiling when I took to long to decipher her note)

My mum, 85 years old plays a huge part in the family circle. Sadly her links with family members are stretched tight as they span over vast distances as we are now scattered all over the world. She shares her precious memories which offer breath taking glimpses into her past where the pulse of Africa throbbed beneath her feet and the cerulean sky drifts into infinity. She pines for her children, grand children and great grand children living in distant lands, and enjoys the ones who are close by.  Elephants are no different from us.

Humans and elephants have so many things in common: our life span is similar and we have a parallel rate of development, maturing into adulthood from anything between eighteen to twenty five years. Elephants, like humans feel love and loyalty for their families, and have a strong sense of death, pining and mourning just as we do. Like us, they will ‘bury’ their dead, covering the body with sticks and leaves, and returning to the place of burial to pay their respects. They display their deep feelings of compassion, which they have extended to other animals, and humans in anguish. Like our children, elephants need the love and teachings of their elders and it is important for the disobedient calves to be disciplined by these more experienced family members. Elephant calves display the same characteristics as human children and throw tantrums, showing jealous traits towards their siblings, jumping with joy and retreating in sadness. ‘Memory like an elephant’ is a saying tossed at someone with a sharp memory, and we say this for a reason. An elephant’s memory is something to be proud of and they do not forget.

The Matriarch will be replaced by one of her daughters (normally the eldest) when she dies. The intense loyalties, deep love, and caring are fundamental to the survival of the herd and these bonds are forged and built over many decades. Young bulls will leave the herd between the ages of 12 and 15 years. They will either join up with a bachelor herd or lead a solitary existence.

Elephant family units will split, normally due to a shortage of food in the area. These family units remain united, meeting up at watering holes and favourite feeding spots. Meeting up with members from the other unit is also cause for celebration. They begin to call out to each other from a quarter of a mile away. Getting closer, they pick up the pace with temporal glands streaming. Once they have spotted each other, they start to run: a large mass of bubbling exuberance and noisy splendor. Making contact through a swirl of dust, these mighty creatures embrace: ears flapping, tusks clicking, leaning into and rubbing each other: all the while urinating and defecating. Spinning in circles, they encompass the world with their joy and a cacophony of trumpeting screams and rumbles shred the air. Happiness and joyful is their reunion.

The numbing distress in seeing these tortured and mutilated bodies left to rot is a sad reminder that these ‘ivory thieves’ are playing with a different set of rules. We are sitting on the edge of the future and we do not want our memories of these iconic animals to belong to another lifetime.

Again, I ask, choking on the question. ‘How can you desire to own something that is so symbolic of suffering and death?’ I will keep asking this question until I get an answer. I ask each one of you consumers of ivory during these tumultuous times, ‘look deep into the eyes of your mother and your grandmothers.’ Your demand is destroying these magnificent animals. Elephants are no different from us in their understanding of life and family values.

China please put at end to this vile trade. Stop this demand for ivory and stop this callous destruction of these iconic animals.

Elephant families and human families unite and protect in the same way. MY POEM …ODE TO MY MUM AND ALL FEMALE ELEPHANTS



5 thoughts on “Magical families…human and elephant

  1. Oh Jen what beautiful words and that in tribute to your special mum The Matriarch of the family.
    Love Kayleighs little tribute too and may they continue in their GOGO’s footsteps saving the elephants from the ivory trade.
    Keep up the good work. xxxx

  2. Absolutely incredible writing!!!! I am so proud of you and your amazing gift … wow! I will keep sharing and keep fighting till I too get the answers that we are looking for! Well done!!! You are an inspiration to me and my girls – thankyou! Xxx

  3. Amazing words flow from your pen Jen. Straight from the heart.
    Thank you!

  4. Thank you again Jen for a beautiful piece of writing. Keep up the good work. xx

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