Worth More Alive

It is coming up 9 years since I was last in Zimbabwe. My family call it, ‘my 9 years of living without elephants.’

It seems a lifetime since I have been embraced by the warm sultry breeze and lain under the luminous African half moon hanging suspended in the dark night sky. I can’t remember when I last watched the stinging needle like rain dancing across the river or Lake Kariba: a curtain raiser to a fiery sunset before it slips below the horizon. Memories of the golden silence of early evening where the shimmering leaves appear to be holding their breath tease my mind.  Africa’s giants ghost into view, puffing up small whirls of dust that appear to hang motionless. Their matriarch, her large and noble head held high, swings her trunk back and forth. She is at one with the peace that only early evening can bring. Despite her heavy bulk of 7 000 Kg , she has the lightness and grace of a dancer. She is an ambassador for her kind, ‘Loxodonta africana.’ These sentient creatures ooze with personality: their wrinkled expressions: fold upon fold of intelligence as they amble down to the river where they partake in a social ritual of water spraying, wading and mud throwing.




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There is far more to elephants than meets the eye. Inside those large and noble heads, a complex and intricate organ resides which makes me ask like many others before me,‘do elephants surpass other animals in wit and mind?’ The memory of watching this herd interact with each other and the show of love and empathy still makes me wonder,’when thinking about the intelligence of these animals, do we compare them to other animals or should we compare them to humans?’

Ask yourselves this question, ‘what does it say about us humans when elephants and rhinos are worth more dead than alive?’

Video link of rhino  – Evidence of the brutality of poachers in South Africa has surfaced once again with a shocking video of another badly mutilated rhino in Kruger National Park.


With the strong currents of change seeping across the world I often feel like we are moving towards realms of the unknown. I close my eyes tightly, desperately holding onto these wonderful memories that keep threatening to spool away.  My nine years without seeing African elephants leaves an emptiness deep inside..and this is the point of what I am writing today. When we used to do our numerous trips to the valley encountering these wild and noble animals..my heart would sing. However, we took it for granted that on our next visit..there they would be, ambling through the camp, feeding on the acacia pods and frolicking in the river and they never disappointed us with their absence.

Now 9 years on..my heart trembles..will they be there on our return? The thought of the African bush without these ambassadors, sadly could become a reality. We cannot afford to look the other way.  DO NOT TAKE THEIR PRESENCE FOR GRANTED. We need to be fighting to ensure that these magnificent animals remain in the wild.

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I cannot sit and do nothing: I can describe the pain and torment that these animals experience and raise awareness through my writing and poetry. However, I need to do more. This is not a violent storm that is bullying its way through the African bush. This is a dark menacing chaos of greed, corruption and ruthless killers who are turning this sun burnt bush into a wild sweltering inferno: flames devouring any animal with tusks and horns. At the rate these animals are being poached: mortality shadows them.

blood ivory story

How can we do more?

I am supporting the brave men and women on the ground who are putting their lives on the line to ensure the safety of the wildlife.

rory young cause

rory young anti poaching

Chengeta Wildlife

Rangers and scouts are brave men who risk their lives to protect wildlife. They may face heavily armed poachers, sometimes ex-guerrilla fighters hired by ivory smuggling syndicates. These rangers  need to have the best training and anti-poaching strategy possible and that is what Chengeta Wildlife provide.


Lisa Groenweg had decided that she could not turn a blind eye to the destruction and started Chengeta Wildlife. She shook up fellow Quora members by raising a huge amount of money in 24 hours….showing that where there is a will to participate and make a difference..it happens

I am proud  to be a part of this amazing group of people supporting Chengeta Wildlife which through Rory Young have developed an Anti Poaching Strategy which can be used throughout Africa.


Rory Young and Yakov Alekseyev have written ‘A Field Manual For Anti-Poaching Activities.’ 

A manual well worth reading..and full of information. It provides intense and detailed evaluation of how to decipher even the smallest and at times what might appear to be unimportant detail and encompass it all into the strategy. In the preface they talk about the fact that our existence clings to the fragile towers that are made up of innumerable life forms that we share this beautiful world with. When individual species are destroyed, we change their impact on the ecosystems and eventually the towers will begin to crumble and fall…causing a domino effect. We have to be incredibly egotistical to believe that we can survive without these ecosystems.

I loved the analogy between Robin Hood and the poachers. It made it so simple to understand that the people in the community have got to view the authorities as the representatives of and partners of the community. It is also important that the community see the poachers as a threat  and not the other way around. It does not matter how well equipped the authorities are..if they don’t have the people on sides..it will be a waste of time and money. The Sheriff of Nottingham failed to apprehend Robin Hood..and failed to punish him..and as a result there was was also a failure of deterrence.

This manual should be a companion for every ranger throughout Africa.



Support the men on the ground

Chengeta Wildlife

The Tashinga Initiative


One last thought: As the warm rays of sun pay their last respects to the mellow day in this sun burnt land, the heavy silence of loss ushers twilight into darkness. If we don’t unite against this rampant poaching: the African bush could be facing a future minus these animals: the very essence that adds to the Africa’s magic.


6 thoughts on “Worth More Alive

  1. What a lovely ‘reminisce’ Jenny! I enjoyed every word – and loved every minute! Along with your beautiful poems – you have a magic touch, and manage to bring the smell and sounds of Africa right to my front door in Dorset! And our support of these awesome, brave men who hold the Thin Green Line in protecting and caring for our amazing wildlife should be a priority! They have my sincerest respect!

  2. Without insisting that Zhao Shucong close China’s ivory carving factories, unfortunately poaching will continue. (Shucong is head of licensing the factories.) The carvers are the center of the trade. They pay the poachers for their bloody tusks, then create the items for the millions of Asian consumers to buy. As China stopped footbinding overnight, Shucong could retool those factories to carve lucky statues and and produce bangles & chopsticks in resin. The trade starts and stops at the factory doors. Any article on elephant poaching and extinction needs to put the blame where it belongs – with China and its carvers. #ChinaStopCarving

  3. This is an incredible, inspirational piece of writing well done – I am so proud of you!

  4. So beautifully written Jenny, so touching to read, so so heartbreaking. May your words touch many parts of the world so people listen and take heed to what is happening to such beautiful gentle creatures. x

  5. That was beautifully written.

    I tweet and blog about elephants constantly, although not the way you write. I tweeted this to 6,000 followers. I can’t imagine your pain, because when I hear about or see just one dead elephant, I am in tears.

    You’re an amazing writer and a beautiful person.

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