‘How can you look the other way?’ I feel my voice trembling with emotion and my heart threatens to leap right out of my chest. ‘You can’t tell me that there is nothing that I can personally do in regard to this poaching.’ I stare long and hard at my colleague.
A pair of dark blue eyes stare at me from over the desk. ‘Do you think that you are making a difference?’ I detect a scornful amusement creasing her mouth. ‘Do people read what you are writing?’
‘Please sit for five minutes. I want to share something with you.’ I dig deep into my computer bag, and push a photograph towards her. ‘Have a look at this.’ A disturbing image of a small herd of mutilated and bloated elephant carcasses jump off the page. I watch as a look of distaste and horror flashes across her face, and then the curtain comes down and she looks away. I turn the photo face down, tapping her arm to get her attention and begin to talk, my voice low and full of emotion.
‘An ancient life force pulsates through the trees snapping branches in the sun fried bush. Pausing momentarily, the matriarch sweeps her powerful trunk across the sky inhaling the sweet breath of the balmy wind, her large tattered ears fanning the breeze. Rumbling gently, she encourages her herd to follow as she leads them over the raw African earth into the warm sticky evening. Under the grotesque limbs of the ‘listening tree’ (baobab) she halts, her muscles taut and her insides trembling. The smoke from a mopani fire teases her senses and the whine of flies shreds the quietness. She can smell humans and feels lonely and vulnerable under the African sky, aware that mortality is shadowing her and the herd. The last solitary finger of sunshine catches her beautiful tusks, causing them to glow with warmth and life before she turns in the her quiet way, alert and ready: protective of her family.’
I look up and her blue eyes are fixed firmly on mine.
‘The ‘kkkkkkkkkk’ growl of automatic gunfire slices the air. Elephants scream in fear and agony as they are cut down with alarming precision turning their peaceful world into one where they are crushed under the heels of supposed civilization. Heartbeats on the run as bullets slam into vulnerable flesh and trees explode in the cross fire. The matriarch lies gasping for breath, heart pounding with fear and her lungs heaving as she struggles for life. Her death gargle bubbles through the trees where the bodies of her magnificent family lie strewn through the bush, their wounds weeping and bleeding onto the dry raw soil. With her death a deadly quiet descends: disturbed only by the victory cries of the humans who approach, axes in hand and hungry for the ‘white gold’. They view the carnage of a family mown down and left among the bullet shells…with nothing more than blood lust in their eyes.
A small calf peers out from the thick jesse bush. With heart bashing against her ribcage and shaky steps, she settles near her mother’s body, her small trunk caressing and feeling, desperate to wake the large elephant. From the deep bush, the hysterical ‘whoop whoop’ of the hyena announces their scavenging arrival. The large tree with its peeling bark stares down…a silent witness to the evenings mayhem.’
I have been totally lost in my narration of this tragedy unfolding and become aware that my colleague is crying. She dabs at her nose with a tissue and stares at me.
‘Where did you get all that information about the elephants in that photo from?’
‘That scenario is what is happening to elephants throughout Africa. They are being slaughtered in their hundreds. One hundred a day are being killed …and all to make jewelry and trinkets.’ I stare at her. ‘For me to look the other way…I can’t.’ I feel my face burn. ‘The Stain of Shame..is what I call it.’
20 000 elephants were poached in Africa last year and this figure far exceeds the rate of growth. Southern Africa is fast becoming the last stronghold for these sentient animals on the continent.Tens of thousands of miles away, carvers are carving these pieces of ivory into ‘art work’ to feed the demand for trinkets and jewelry. Each carving represents the above scene and consumers need to become aware that behind every ‘intricate piece of carved ivory, there is a story……a bloody barbaric story.’ For those that are lucky to survive these attacks..there can be serious injuries.
To those fueling the demand which in turn fuels the destruction, do you have any idea of the chaos and destruction left behind, rotting in the vast wilderness of sun kissed grass and sturdy trees of Africa. Please say no to ivory and help to save these magnificent and sentient animals from extinction. The 12th August represents world elephant day. Let us all stand united and avert a huge tragedy. Have a look at this link….‘The True Cost of IvoryTrinkets is an infographic in Chinese and English to help raise awareness on the rampant poaching of elephants. This infographic was created for Chengeta Wildlife.
Humans: stop being so preoccupied with you. We appear to be unable to comprehend and feel compassion for the other sentient creatures that share this valuable planet with us. We are now being forced to look at ourselves. I know that I find myself apologising on behalf of humankind and feel an excruciating shame at the way the wildlife is being destroyed I do not believe that we hold exclusive rights to dignity and freedom…
Banning the sale of ivory for retailers in China…would…halt the trade. Banning the sale of ivory for carvers in China..would mean a vanishing of what they call a ‘unique art’. Banning the sale of ivory for elephants represents LIFE….they are not to be turned into ‘Melancholy Figurine.’ (My Poem)