Let Us Do Right By These Animals….

A request for an impromptu talk on the Zimbabwean bush, elephants and Chengeta Wildlife

caught me on the hop. However, after taking a deep breath I started to talk

and the passion I feel for the bush, the elephants and Chengeta begin to shine through.

Let Us Do Right By These Animals

What is it you love? their eager eyes hold mine

I flash a smile…my face softens and I begin to shine

My heart dances to an African Beat

My spirit soars as their eyes I meet

My mind reels away to another time and another place

My pulse quickens and begins to race

Moonbeams spill gently caressing the night

Twinkling stars ghost like whispers of light

Dry leaves crackle…seduced by the a frolicking breeze

Morning twilight peeks softly…as darkness flees

A cacophony of bird calls fills the African dawn

A horizon stitched in gold…glows on the glorious crisp morn

Spiderwebs like fine gossamer sculptures sparkle with dew

Cruising the empty air pockets….a fish eagle with a birds eye view

Nature’s gifts…shared with us for free

Fast flowing rivers….rich diversity of wildlife and gigantic trees

The musky smell of wet earth after thunderstorms and needle like rain

Miracle of new life unfurling….revealing a world of timeless wonders…

A world we should not tame


‘Go on…tell us about the elephants’….they smile

Collecting my thoughts…I pause for a while

Large wrinkled rumps weathered by wind and rain

Pilgrims of Africa….ambling over sun kissed terrain

Ponderous..yet graceful under the wide open sky

Stopping as one…their versatile trunks reaching up high

Long sweeping lashes as dark as a moonless night

Veiling wise eyes flecked with golden sunlight

The earth trembles with each massive tread

Dusty promises …. and by their iconic matriarch led

Africa shaped ears romancing the breeze

These mega gardeners of the veld…uprooting trees

Graced with an ageless beauty…light on their large padded feet

To watch them in the wild..such a life changing treat

I feel my heart hammering…my eyes fill with tears

My stomach turns over and I am overcome with fears

An aura of dignity hugging their sides

Mystery tusks held out wide

Behind their wrinkled visage…a wise and ancient soul

The burden of carrying their ivory…taking its toll

Invisible winds blowing a dry warm breath

Poachers ensuring that elephants dance a dance of death

People….please …. you have to listen and become aware of the elephants plight

Let us do right by these animals…

Support Chengeta

Support the good fight

Rangers risk their lives to protect the wildlife

We give them the skills and knowledge needed to win

A Horizon Full Of Elephants…Some Thirty Miles Long

The tusks of

7 600 elephants will be burnt in Kenya on 30.04.16.  This poem is dedicated to

those elephants callously slaughtered.

shutterstock_197286104 ellies to clip art

Out of the twilight they march to a African beat

Free swinging trunks and large padded feet

Cobwebs float like gossamer lace

African sunrise….a fiery promise in this magical place

Full of mystery they amble….romancing the sun

A horizon full of elephants….some thirty miles long

shutterstock_197286104 ellies to clip art

A dusting of Africa freckling their majestic heads

A powerful belonging in each well worn tread

Kilimanjaro rises….peaking above the celestial clouds

Caressed by the heavens….it stands colossal and proud

The African bush shrouded in russet clothes

The mighty continent grumbling beneath their toes

shutterstock_197286104 ellies to clip art

Creamy tusks glow….a life spark lit from within

A resounding boom……a deathly din

Invisible winds blow…..a dry warm breath

Elephants swaying to the ‘Dance of Death’


The flame of life extinguished by the human hand


Elephants lie bleeding into the warm African sand

shutterstock_197286104 ellies to clip art

30th April, 2016….black smoke billows high

Thousands of blood stained tusks…..an elephant pyre

Choking flames engulf….blocking out the sky

Decades of destruction…..


Magnificent tusks…never ours to keep

A final salute to these giants…..as the angels weep

shutterstock_197286104 ellies to clip art

A haunting lullaby carries on the early morning breeze

Twilight lingers….restless in the trees

Gilt edge clouds drift above the rising sun

A horizon full of ghosts marching……some thirty miles long

shutterstock_197286104 ellies to clip art



Kissed By The Mellow Sun

Dedicated to the magnificent African Elephants

Please sign the petition to stop Zimbabwe

from exporting more baby elephants to China

shutterstock_197286104 ellies to clip art

A horizon stitched in a delicate gold thread

Large drops of sunshine flaunting a deep orange red

The drum roll of Africa pulsating in each elephant’s heart beat

Large leathery rumps basking…..relaxed in the sultry heat

Whispering leaves harmonise…celebrating summer’s gentle breeze

Embracing mud caked elephant calves frolicking with ease

The electric sky stretches high above this sun burnt


Elephants parading the African skyline….massive and grand

Creamy scythe like tusks…trunks so versatile and tender

Lumbering past…cloaked in wrinkled robes of splendour

Mile upon mile of dusty golden tales they weave

Keeping vigil over silent bones…they sorrow and they grieve

Loxodonta Africana…..proud of their god given treasures

Kissed by the mellow sun…rejoicing in life’s pleasures

A shimmering mirage as they amble in the hot midday heat

A colliding of giants where elephants and continent meet

Invisible whistling winds…graceful with nature’s song

Caressing this

Timeless land where these magnificent giants belong

Africa’s elephants full of rhythm….a vital life source

Majestic and noble….a powerful magnetic force

shutterstock_197286104 ellies to clip art

Elephants boxed and crated…exported into servitude……Forced to be become compliant

An ultimate betrayal of these enigmatic giants

Africa without elephants….evaporated memories thrown to the

dry wind

Giants robbed of an existence….by those who have sinned

As custodians of this earth….we hold their destiny in the palms

of our hands

Ghostly shadows of giants haunting an arid African land

chengeta wildlife iage for calender

Rangers risk their lives

Let’s give them the skills and knowledge to win


Speaking Out


shutterstock_197286104 ellies to clip art

‘If you notice anyone falling asleep…you will know that you are boring the hell out of them.’ The President of the Rotary Club pulls my leg during dinner. I can feel a lump of bread the size of a  freshly baked roll lodge firmly in my throat and my heart takes pleasure in pounding against my ribs. A nervous laugh squeezes past the lump of bread. I have never embarked on any form of public speaking before and I am so grateful to have my best friend Gary by my side.

I think back to the day towards the end of 2013 when a Zimbabwean contemporary of mine told me in no uncertain terms that there was absolutely nothing that one little person could do to make any difference in the fight against the scourge of poaching. I straighten my shoulders…as just over one year on….I am helping to make a difference. I allow my mind to meander back through the years to the untamed bush that I feel such an enormous part of and I can smell these animals that I am so passionate about and I feel confident that I am ready to stand up and be counted.

I lead the audience back in time embracing the wide open sky and warmth of the African sun that Gary and I have been privileged enough to have spent our entire lives (apart from the last 10 years) enjoying. I share my adoration of these immense creatures with the room offering them a breathtaking glimpse into the world of the elephants. I can feel the emotion clawing up my throat and I want this audience to love and respect these soulful creatures as much as I do before Gary starts his talk with a graph depicting a grotesque and alarming annihilation of these animals and the continual ‘War Zone’ that they are battling to survive in. This is a graph that should shock any thinking and compassionate person into feeling a sense of alarm….and shame.

genocide of african elephant

There is silence in the room and I can see that these men are shocked at the horrific number of elephants that have been slaughtered throughout Africa over the last century and some…Africa’s elephants, rhinos and other wildlife is under attack from poachers, and many species face imminent extinction if the killing continues at current rates. 

It is then time to offer what we see as being such a huge part of the solution on the ground.


Our mission is to deter the trade of illegal wildlife products by giving existing wildlife protection teams the skills and knowledge they need to protect wildlife and themselves, by educating the market on the destruction caused by the purchase of illegal wildlife products and by creating awareness and gathering support worldwide.’

chengeta wildlife iage for calender

I can feel myself bursting with pride at what has been achieved. Chengeta Wildlife was started by Lisa Groenweg (USA) in conjunction with Rory Young, a conservationist on the ground. Rory Young, through Chengeta Wildlife has single-handedly trained 120 rangers in different African countries in the last year. He has based his training on the strategies from the ‘A Field Manual For Anti-Poaching Activities’ that he has written in conjunction with Jacob Alexseyev.

Co-author Rory Young explained that through ALERT he intends to provide training free of charge to Africa’s anti-poaching units to increase their effectiveness.  The doctrine and training includes: pro-active and reactive investigation techniques to understand the movements, areas of operation and modus operandi of poachers; surveillance and tracking skills to locate the poachers – developed with many years’ experience and incorporating aspects of anthropology, podiatry and forensic science; apprehension techniques to ensure a safe and effective method to capture poachers; and most importantly, how to prevent poaching in the first place.  He says, “Training is conducted within local and international laws and adapted to local conditions and sensitivities.  Wherever possible local trainers are to be used, and, the training of local individuals able to provide future training, is always the primary goal.  What we need is for these improved techniques to spread like wild-fire.

“This field manual is capable of transforming the fight against poaching dramatically.” -Rory Young

This manual is a first of it’s kind and is currently being put into modules by the University of Coventry. These 120 rangers have returned to their different posts and provided the skills and knowledge they have learnt from Rory to the men under their command.

As a result…750 rangers have now received this comprehensive training.




‘A huge THANK YOU to Joe Chernov, Robin Richards and Leslie Bradshaw for creating the infographic below for Rory Young and Chengeta Wildlife!‘   I urge you all to share the link far and wide for us.

Rory in Malawi

100% of monies raised go directly to funding these training camps and Rory is producing fantastic results. For the past month Rory has been in Liwonde National Park in Malawi. 30 rangers received training and equipment in an advanced ‘Anti-Poaching and Trafficking Course’. A huge part of the training is an ‘In course live anti-poaching’ operation where Rory goes out with the trainees in the field and puts in practice the methods they have learnt during the course. These men have managed to apprehend some 33 poachers in Malawi in the last month.

Chengeta’s reputation is spreading and a further 12 countries have asked for our help….Rory’s itinerary for 2015 is full.

I loved my evening and am delighted that two more talks have been organised with dates to be confirmed and I know that between working with the schools and doing more presentations….our itinerary for raising awareness on the plight of the African wildlife…..

And showing people what Chengeta Wildlife are achieving….our 2015 itinerary is also going to be full. We all have a voice…Please use it.

Africa’s Giants

‘We have booked ourselves a trip to South Africa.’ Her blue water colour eyes and cheeky smile stare at me across the office desk. I feel the little green monster clawing his way up my back and onto my shoulder. ‘I knew you would like to know.’ She is one of our youngest residents at the Assisted Living Complex where I work.

‘Oh my word.’ I can feel my heart thumping with excitement.. I cup my chin in my hands and meet her gaze. ‘You are so lucky. I can already feel my mind easing into bush mode.’ She chuckles and I can feel her excitement. ‘You will be paying a visit to Kruger?’ I ask.

‘Mmmm..I am not sure. We have been there before and I do feel that once you have been into the African bush…you have seen the bush.’ I can feel a look of amazement creeping across my face as she continues, ‘and once you have seen an elephant, what else is there to see about them? They are just animals.’ A furrow deepens between my eyebrows.

‘Have you got five minutes?’ I grin. ‘I will help you to find a little magic in the African bush.’ She nods and sits down with a funny little smile lifting the corner of her lips.


‘Do yourselves a favour. Venture into the sun burnt haven of Kruger, feast your eyes and open your ears. Listen carefully as the land is full of song. ‘Natures Chimes’ I call them. The whistling wind, the mournful call of the dove, whispering leaves and the gentle hum of midges Keep listening and you will hear the high pitched bark of the zebras, the chatter of monkeys and the insane giggling of the hyenas. When you find a baobab tree, inspect it closely…in the safety of the camp. They are amazing and create their own ecosystem. They support the life of countless creatures, from the largest of mammals, the elephants to the thousands of tiny creatures that scamper in and out of its crevices. Birds nest in the grotesque branches; baboons dine on the fruit; bush babies and fruit bats drink the nectar and pollinate the flowers. While broody birds police the trees, don’t be put off by the call of the ‘go away bird’. Search the sky for a glimpse of the magnificent Martial Eagle as he cruises the empty air pockets and soak up the resonant calls of the glossy starlings drifting on the wind. You might be lucky enough to catch sight of a tawny lion slinking through the trees. Enjoy the sweet scent of steaming buffalo dung that invades your senses and admire the endless horizon stitched across the sky.On Nature’s grand stage, embrace the sticky breeze caressing your bare arms and throw your soul to the wilderness.  


Powerful, dignified and awe inspiring comes to mind when I think about elephants. Hil, an elephant’s body might be vastly different from our own, but their behaviour is so human. Watch a family of elephants frolicking at the water pan. They are a noisy vibrant mass of exuberance anxious mums keep an eye on their youngsters…hauling them out of deep water with powerful and versatile trunks. Enjoy the show of humour as they play tricks on each other, tumbling around with joy while one little loner displays a show of jealousy and throws a tantrum…stomping out of the water and literally turns his back on the gleeful sounds. Close your eyes and feel rather than hear the subliminal rumble as they amble up the sand choked gully, stopping to strip the bark off a wizened baobab tree, their creamy tusks gleaming in the sunlight. They exude the essence of life and despite their bulky appearance, they move like dancers..light on their feet as their soles spread to take their immense weight. ‘The colliding of two giants’..where elephant and Continent meet. Hil, you think we are advanced in long range communications..we are.. but only by using equipment. Elephants communicate with infra-sound over a vast distance which is inaudible to human ears and they also appear to have a broad vocabulary with many distinct calls that have specific meanings. Watch them as they march to a drum roll of Africa pounding beneath their feet and feel the air vibrating with the excitement of love and trust that bonds them together..a powerful ingredient and one that us humans could learn from.’ She is looking at me with a far away expression and I think maybe I am boring her. I raise an eyebrow and her eyes focus back on me.


‘Carry on..you have my attention.’ She laughs.

‘Fall under the spell of the African bush and celebrate the intricate web of life that teems under each fallen log, woolly tuft of grass and in the burbling streams. Allow yourself to be encompassed by the invisible aura that surrounds these majestic animals and reaches deep into the human soul in a mysterious and mystifying way. Elephants know and feel different emotions as they celebrate the birth of a baby and they mourn the death of loved ones. Elephants show all the best attributes of mankind with few of them displaying our darker sides. We call ourselves moral..but as humans, we are capable of immense cruelty. The elephants complex social structures are not ours to break. They forge these bonds over a life time. Sadly humans’ myopic greed for ivory is driving these tusk cursed animals to extinction.’ I pause and there is not a sound. ‘Hil, please go into Kruger. As the sun rays tip toe into early evening and crickets and cicadas shred the air…breath deeply sucking the fresh air into your lungs and allow these ambassadors of the wild to creep into your heart and to share their source of great wisdom and peace. With their large powerful trunks swinging freely..let your mind go with them and engage with the beauty that surrounds them. They are the gods of the African bush and I defy you to come back and tell me that …’once you have seen an elephant..what more is there to see.’ Go and enjoy Africa through my eyes.’


Three weeks later she came bounding into my office with a wide grin and twinkling eyes. Before I could say anything she grabbed my hand, ‘how long have you got?’ her laugh tinkles. ‘It was awe inspiring. We saw so much game. The elephants…were …just amazing. I did not want to leave them. We watched the breeding herd and I could feel their emotion. We watched as they all appeared to stop as one…lifting their trunks into the air…still as can be, before moving on. The ranger said they were probably receiving a message. I loved their wrinkled coats and huge Africa shaped ears.’ She laughs. ‘Now you have me using your descriptions. Thank you for opening my eyes to what the African bush offers.’ She squeezed my hand. ‘We saw giraffe, lion, a variety of buck and rhino.’ Her voice falters. ‘The rhino are being poached at an alarming rate. It is tragic. I know you had told me but I had never felt connected before, but seeing them this on this trip and looking at them through fresh eyes I can now understand your fear. These beautiful animals belong in the African bush. It is their home. Before I left, you told me that you were on the board of directors of a group?’ I nod feeling close to tears.

‘Yes, I am on the board of directors for Chengeta Wildlife. We offer a comprehensive training to anti-poaching units through out Africa.’ I wipe away a tear that has crept out and down my cheek. She has made me feel so homesick.

‘I am sorry I did not buy any of your calendars.’ She smiled. ‘I wish I had. I did not want to leave Kruger you know.’ I nod, fully understanding that she had now left a huge chunk of her heart buried deep within the sun kissed African bush. We sit in comfortable silence and I hold onto that thought keeping it close to my heart and I feel her emptiness..we are now connected by an invisible bond.

‘Yes, Hil. I can fully understand how you feel. I am a child of Africa..it is in my very being. Each animal that is slaughtered for greed…I feel the pain. That is why I am determined that I will promote Chengeta Wildlife as I have huge belief in what we are going to achieve. We are a force for good and we are a part of these animals future.’ I hand her a web site address. I know she will have a look and see that we are fundraising. As she disappears, there is a feeling of peace in the office and I smile…one more convert.


Elephants Helping Elephants

I watch as her old arthritic fingers fight with the small silver needle and sun burnt thread on its epic journey of stitching up the elephant cushion. She takes a deep breath. My eyes never leave her face as her corn blue eyes, weathered with the passing of time twinkle and her cheeks glow like ripe strawberries as a huge satisifed sigh escapes her. ‘All done.’ She murmurs. It has taken a little time to do these two cushions as at 85, she always informs me that she can no longer run a marathon. My mum is a delightful and amazing old lady and I love and admire that she wants to help me raise funds for Chengeta Wildlife.  I took photos of her beautiful cushions and put them on face book last night. What a fantastic response…and I now have to go and tell her that her work is not done. I have closed the cushion shop as she has orders for 10 more and I know what she will say.

elephant pillows blue

‘I better do them as quick as I can because time is what I have…but how much time..I don’t know.’ And she will laugh at the horrified look on my face and we will work together to get these cushions done. So this coming week, I will snatch moments of time, oil the sewing machine and we will get busy on ‘elephant cushions.’ Stacked up next to me on the table, are beautiful calendars and numerous elephant key rings/chains for sale…all proceeds will go towards Chengeta Wildlife and the amazing work that Rory Young is doing in training rangers.

These are precious moments that are set in my memory like snap shots as I watch my family..the oldest being 85 down to the youngest who is comming up 4. My heart swells with pride when I hear them all talking about Chengeta Wildlife, Rangers and the poaching of elephants and rhinos and what we can do to help fight this scourge. We sit around the ancient dining room table making key chains, cushions or deciding what image would be best for the calendars. 

calander chengeta 2

calander chengeta

Kayleigh (my oldest grandie) has definite ideas too.

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 too long to decipher her note)

elephant bodies on black background

keyrings on black background


 As a family, we work as a team. While I am now the matriarch of my family, I value what my mum has taught me. She 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 with her great grandchildren which offer breath taking glimpses into her past where the pulse of Africa throbbed beneath her feet and the cerulean sky drifted 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.

Elephant families will also split but their reunions are incredible. 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. Happy and joyful is their reunion.

ellie clip art

While we are desperately trying to help Rory Young train rangers to fight the scourge of poaching, many thousands of miles away from where we sit around the dining room table, the sunset, in an explosion of gold is bidding the African day goodnight. While wisps of cloud flutter past the African half moon lying serenely on ber back, the magnificent martriarch wearing her robe of wrinkles and two well worn tusks trumpets in rage as  bullets thump into the smallest member of her herd and she hears the bone crack. Trees explode as bullets ricochet and chaos reigns as this elephant herd is lost in a world of ugly greed, violence and blackness. With dawns slow promise of a golden day… a mighty stillness settles. Help us to help them.

These magnificent animals ask only for the space to roam free under the cerulean sky without fear, surrounded by their families and doing what elephants always do: living in the moment. As the superior beings, we do have one thing that no other living creature does: we have the ability to change the way things are. We hold the destiny of every living creature in our hands, and yet so few of us hear their silent cries of agony and their helpless pleas. The greed for ‘white gold’ has become the elephants downfall as the horn of the rhino has become their fate and their numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate. Elephants show all the best attributes of mankind with few of them displaying our darker sides. 

rory in training.

Rory meeting with the chief and elders of Sidakoro, Parc National de Haut Niger

‘Meeting with the chief and elders of Sidakoro, Parc National de Haut Niger. 
A critical part of the training and ops is how and why to approach community leaders and to sensitize and educate them, preferably developing in the process a positive flow of information from the community. With them on sides half the battle is won. Sometimes it is tedious work, lacking the excitement and adrenaline of pursuit and apprehension ops. That does not make it any less important.
In this case, far from complaining that the park and rangers are a nuisance the complaint from the elders and community is that poaching in protected areas has caused dramatic reduction in wildlife in traditional hunting areas. The majority of that poaching is by outside commercial poachers travelling to the park and then transporting the meat and other products to far away cities. In such situations the community can be and are a natural and important ally.’

While Rory Young gives of his time to train rangers throughout Africa, I am asking all of you…look at our chengetawildlife.org page. Help us to train and equip these men on the ground. Change will come….but we cannot afford to drift in the stream of the world….we need to act now. Africa’s wildlife needs us  all to take an active role so that we can lead them out of the dark.

Consumers of ivory and rhino horn..hear their screams and let the heavy silence of loss flank you. Behind every piece of ivory and rhino horn is a story…a barbaric and bloody story. Your desire for ivory trinkets and rhino horn is decimating Africa’s elephants and rhinos. Those ivory bracelets, chopsticks and figurines are the cause of elephants being slaughtered. How can you desire something that is so significant of violence and death.

A call for help in desperate times of poaching by Rory Young. Please watch and share this short clip.

The Lonely Elephant

 ellie clip art

Two weeks ago I was in the company of an Asian elephant in captivity. She looked healthy but the thing that struck home to me was the fact that she kept her eyes down and I could feel this sadness surrounding her. Elephants have extremely expressive faces..and on hers, I could see nothing..there was an emptiness about her. I left the enclosure with a heavy heart and dragging footsteps.  Later that evening I drifted, deep in thought and full of weighty concerns. Soft whispers from the Zimbabwean bush kept creeping into my consciousness and teasing me before evaporating. I strolled out into our garden and stared up at the gloomy sky. These iconic creatures have and will always be exploited by man. For humans…it is and always will be about money. I swear loudly kicking out angrily with my right foot. Gary appeared around the corner, his eyebrows raised in question marks.

‘Sometimes there are just not enough rocks to kick.’ I smiled feebly feeling my words catching on the huge lump lodged firmly in my throat. Back at my computer I came across the story of ‘Maggie’ the Zimbabwean elephant…and I dedicate today’s blog to her and all other captive elephants.

ellie clip art

A shutter slams down like a prison door closing out the briefest glimpse of life that shone out of the intelligent amber eyes. Fold upon fold of wrinkles appear to hang down as she sways gently..back and forth. The concrete, cold and abrasive beneath her feet where African elephant and Alaskan ground meet. Lifting a leg gently, she rumbles..relieved as the pain subsides and she stands stock still trying to stay in the moment forever. The spongy pads beneath her feet which are the perfect shock absorbers for her weight..have stood on this cold concrete floor since 1983. Her large noble head which is supported with extra muscles along the neck hangs down and her enormous Africa shaped ears lie flat against her textured shoulders. Her large trunk, a slow swinging pendulum from sadness to distress. This elephant has been crushed under the heels of supposed civilization. Chains of suffocation have a tight grip on her soul as from mid November through to end of February, she experiences 67 days of darkness and freezing cold temperatures.





Back in Zimbabwe… Maggie’s African relations march through the midday sun leaving their large footprints in the sand of this harsh and timeless land.  Fanning large Africa shaped ears,their well muscled and gigantic trunks joyously lift to embrace the smell of thunder that hangs in the air. Towering purple clouds reign over the early afternoon..oppressive and still. This herd of giants has spent the good part of the day ambling, foraging, dusting and it now appears that they will partake in a downpour of cooling rain. The matriarch trumpets as the wind picks up stealing leaves from the trees as it menaces through the sun kissed bush and sand choked gullies. Temporal glands flow as the electrical charge in the air excites the adhesive group of females and they turn their backs to the arguing clouds, protective of their young and reassuring them with caresses from long versatile trunks. Lightening flashes jagged against the pregnant clouds and the wind snakes through the trees. On nature’s grandest stage, the heavens open and stinging needle like rain falls to the throaty applause of thunder.

Once the onslaught from nature subsides and the sun breaks free from the passing clouds, an aroma of freshness and wet earth fills the air. The calves, full of boundless energy frolick in the wet grass, their unblemished optimism for life offers a breathtaking glimpse into their world of love and compassion. The afterglow from the storm bathes the damp bush in a warm coppery light and the contented rumblings from the elephants leaves one in no doubt that these iconic animals are the essence of the African bush. Evening is soon ushered in by an explosion of burnt orange as the sun seeps slowly over the horizon.


Back in her box Maggie’s day fades like a passing shadow: a shadow that makes for lonely company thousands of miles away from where she belongs. Her Asian elephant companion Annabelle died in 1997 from foot rot.

Every day she endures a painful stretching of her heart. She is imprisoned in her concrete jungle and by the long cold dark winters. Unlike woolly mammoths, African elephants have sparse clumps or tufts of hair which can be found at the end of their tails and around their mouths. They are unsuited to cold climates.

Maggie’s story, however has a happy ending. On November 1st 2007 after months of dispute between those wanting Maggie to stay at The Alaska Zoo and those pushing to get her in a warmer climate, the 27-year-old African elephant is heading to the Performing Animal Welfare Society in San Andrea’s, Calif.

The Air Force agreed to transport Maggie as part of a training mission after officials with the animal advocacy group and the zoo found out the elephant was too big for a commercial airline. (short video of Maggie being transported and settling into her new home)

Today Maggie spends her days on 12 hectares with 9 other pachyderms at an animal-rescue society’s compound in California’s Sierra Mountains.

 “There is no state of the art keeping an animal in captivity. State of the art is Botswana, you know, it’s not San Andreas and it’s not San Francisco. We wish that the elephant-in-captivity problem would go away, and we can stop this at some point.”

For now, though, Stewart says, PAWS has room for more elephants.


ellie clip art

I am sucked into the magic that surrounds these sentient animals. When in the presence of an elephant, the air appears to be purer and you can feel a pulse throbbing beneath your feet. A vibration of vitality engulfs my very being and I turn into an awestruck and lovesick fan of theirs. There is a peacefulness and goodness so overwhelming, that when they turn and amble off, they steal another chunk of my pounding heart. These sentient beings are creatures of the bush: they capture the very essence of nature.

While we all drift in the streams of this beautiful world, there is an uneasy magic as we paddle against these turbulent realms of the unknown. Because I am passionate about elephants, and want nothing more than everyone else to feel the same way, I realise that I am and always have been a ‘dreamer’. However these attacks on our elephants, rhinos, lions and all other endangered species does concern all of us: it is our children’s children,s heritage at stake. Maggie’s story made a deep impression on me and I could feel her sadness and loneliness. It is stories like hers and the rampant poaching sweeping our African countries that make it impossible for me to carry on living in a place of vague contentment. I can not sit back and pretend all is well in our animal world.

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence. .”
Wallace Stegner,
What of the future?
100 elephants are killed a day for their ivory. The following infographic has been designed for Chengeta Wildlife with thanks to Joe Chernov, Robin Richards and Leslie Bradshaw. Please share it by any means that you can.
Life will go on on this harsh and timeless land. Hiding behind the mask of civilization, we need to ask ourselves a question.While the world watches, are we going to allow our country to become a hauntingly lonely bush full of ghosts?Courage does not have to be a gigantic roar.
ellie clip art


Support the men on the ground

Chengeta Wildlife

The Tashinga Initiative


Sign those petitions that will help to get elephants out of incarceration.


Enlightening The Oldies

I love my life here in the UK and feel incredibly blessed to be able to make a living. This journey I am on and the wonderful people I am meeting in person and also through face book  all adds to the excitement of taking a stance against wildlife crime in the best way I know how. I work in an Assisted Living Complex and over the last three years have made time to get to know and respect our residents. I am amazed at how many of them have ties of some sort to my beautiful home country, Zimbabwe.  OF course, the conversation strangely enough gets around to elephants, and at least half of them have had the wonderful experience of seeing these animals in the wild. However, very few of them were aware of the rampant poaching sweeping through Africa, until I started my journey. Since I started sharing my precious memories with them all, I now receive newspaper cuttings, magazine cuttings and all sorts of tidbits concerning Zimbabwe’s beleaguered elephants, rhinos and other endangered species. Sometimes I end up with three of four cuttings of the same article, and I just smile and thank each of them. A few of them call me ‘elephant girl’ which makes me at 55 years of age smile.



What is the bush like?’ is a question I am often asked and I have to admit that I do feel a painful stretching of my heart.

‘Zimbabwe is a wild garden pulsating with life.’ I again feel the hot dry air rushing into my lungs and the warm sultry heat that saturates every inch of my body. I smile at the memories of the african people with their dark tightly knitted curls, solemn dark eyes and ready smiles. There is not a night that goes by where the setting sun does not whisper a promise for tomorrow and the golden horizons herald a new morning.  The vast blue skies  smile down on this Eden teeming with wildlife of every description.

‘Have you camped in the bush?’ Blue eyes, worn over time stare at me.

‘The morning mist rises with summer laziness and the wild sweet decay of elephant dung fills your nostrils. Our favourite fishing spot in the Zambezi valley is a place that steals your heart. I have slept out side under a mosquito net, all be it with a thumping heart. A myriad of stars light up the night sky and the serenading of crickets and birds lulls you into a deep sleep. A low frequency purr that you can feel rather than hear alerts you to the fact that a gigantic presence is blocking out the night sky. Fold upon fold of wrinkled skin is close enough to reach out and touch. My heart bolts like a runaway train and my mouth is so dry that the inner folds are stuck to my teeth. The earthy sweet odour clogs my nostrils and the elation of being in the presence of an elephant fills me with a life changing euphoria.’ I shake my head, holding this particular memory close to my heart.






‘You have to see the golden dawn and the hear the liquid murmur of the fast flowing Zambezi river. There is nothing more enchanting than a steaming hot cup of tea and a vast river to leave you with summer contentment and idle thoughts. The grunts from the aquatic ballet dancers (hippos) as they frolic in the water ,watchful and at times bad tempered. Along the bank the old dugger boy (buffalo) slurps thirstily, a mean look in his rheumy old eye. He is a walking smorgasbord for the tick birds that in turn provide him with a free bug and tic cleaning service.’ I smile. ‘You have to hear the baboon cursing each other with loud angry barks. You have to see to appreciate the weaver bird nests decorating low hanging branches and African skimmers and white fronted plovers. Mosquitoes, sun creams, biltong and beer all form a delightful partnership with camping on the Zambezi river. Beware the crocodiles with their slit eyes and lethal jaws.’


I continue to enthuse, my eyes lighting up and burning as bright as the African sun. There is a powerful pulsing of African through my veins as I think of this vast continent. My eyes dull as I think of the troubles facing the continent. A continent that is also weeping. The continent with an emptiness at her centre that I find disturbing.

blood ivory story


I tell them that behind every piece of ivory there is a story, a bloody barbaric story. I talk about the callous way these animals are slaughtered and left to rot in the sun. We talk about how sentient these animals are and what it does to young animals who witness these fullscale killings.  The plight of the rhino is also a subject that is foremost on my mind. I tell them about Thandi the rhino and show them the link. Then we also talk about canned hunting and the fact that these lion cubs are hand reared for shooting and I can see these old folk shake their heads, a horrified look in their eyes.  

‘You are doing a good job.’ They tell me. 

‘Thank you, but I need to do more.’ Is my reply. 

An arthritic hand with dry crepe skin reaches out, cool to the touch and a gentle voice brings me back to the present. ‘Thank you for sharing those precious moments with us.’ She coughs gently, clearing her throat. ‘Who will look after these places that you describe? How many animals are left now? It is such a long time since you were home.’ 

‘There are so many amazing people out there putting their lives on the line to protect this heritage.’ I pull out my phone and show them the photos of Rory Young and Chengeta Wildlife. (Their face book page. Please like and share.) I tell them that Rory has already volunteered much of his time in providing much needed training to wildlife protection teams. Violent groups in the region have now started to look to the ivory trade to fund terrorist activities. Rory is implementing a full time, comprehensive training program to provide the rangers with the resources they need to carry out their important work and has now formed a partnership with  ALERT. 

rory young twitt


It is a life changing experience for the rangers who are witness to the ‘desolation’ long after the poached animal has unburdened its enormous wrinkled body into a spiritual updraft of lightness. Sadly for these animals death does not always come in a single violent stroke.

For me, I am going to continue to raise awareness on the plight of the elephants, rhinos and other endangered species through my poetry and blog. The Baobab, A silent witness (my poem)

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



African Dream

Powerful, dignified and awe inspiring comes to mind when I think about elephants. They are the biggest and most spectacular land animals.  A big tusker can stand up to 4 meters tall and weigh six or seven tonnes.  A big bull’s tusks can weigh up to 100 kilograms, and it is the elephants tusks that humans are greedy to own. These gentle giants are richly endowed with all the better attributes of mankind have forever been stalked and hunted by the uglier and darker side of man.


When we discuss ‘animal intelligence’, do we as humans take on a anthropocentric view? Are we the most important beings? Whilst we are an intricate part of this wild and beautiful world, we are but one thread in this web of life.  We are all creatures of the soil, and we need to learn to honour all that leaves their mark in the sand. Sadly, we seem bent on destroying not only each other, but the environment as well. These magnificent creatures and other animals are also intricately woven into evolution’s slow magic. They are however, not preoccupied with control or destruction. Elephants reveal to us humans all the goodness in creation. They possess an inner beauty: Natures soothing breeze.


Southern African countries are a mass of teeming humanity: a canvas of brightly coloured African textiles and bronzed sunsets. This land of extremes is vibrant, garish and spicy but sadly the spacious tree lined avenues of the cities and towns are a silent witness to the corruption and greed.

ellie coming into hotel

However, get close to a mango grove in Zambia and the magic of Africa will leave you reeling. Where else in the world can you book into a hotel and be a witness to the migration of a small herd of elephants who return every November to gorge on the mangoes. With a low frequency purr that you can feel rather than hear, they enter the lobby, large ears fanning the breeze gently as they rumble on through. Pausing every so often, a large versatile trunk leans over sneaking a quick peek at the register offering guests a breathtaking glimpse of their compassionate and huge hearts. Wrinkle upon wrinkle of intelligence and a large mass of bubbling exuberance best describes these animals as they glide out the lobby lifting their trunks to where the sunshine hangs lazily in the cerulean sky.

elie checking register

Building the lodge in their path was never intended but these magnificent animals continue to seduce guests for the +- four to six weeks of the year with their regal presence. Africa, a land of extremes with it’s golden bush and limitless blue heavens is also a land of constant movement and violent corruption.

We hold the destiny of every living creature in our hands, and yet so few of us hear the silent cries of agony and the  helpless pleas. The greed for ‘white gold’ has become the elephants downfall and their numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate.  As the large drop of sun lingers, idle in its goodbyes, let us not allow the darkness to envelop and destroy the riches that these countries have to offer. Help to keep the African dream alive.

rory young twitt

 Rory Young is a wildlife tracker and activist who has been fighting against poaching all his life. Born in Zambia and brought up in different parts of Africa, Rory took to wildlife tracking as a child and decided to make it his life’s mission.

Rory Young has formed an alliance with Jacob Alekseyev, an American living in Zambia. Alekseyev is a former Major and Federal Agent of the US Air Force, Office of Special Investigations. Together they have worked out a plan of action to stop poaching in the Zambezi River Valley. Chengeta Wildlife is completely volunteer run and this investment will allow the rangers the much needed skills and resources to defend themselves and protect the magnificent elephants and other wildlife. Please also take a look at their facebook page where you can offer them some support.

 rory and co

There is hope, if we stand together. Our partners at https://www.facebook.com/lionalert described the free training we offer, “We are offering training to Africa’s anti-poaching units (APUs) in the most comprehensive, intelligent and pragmatic doctrine ever devised to bring the practice of poaching under control.”

If anyone would like to take an active role in the solution to poaching, you can now donate directly from Chengeta Wildlife’s Facebook page. So far 100% of donations to Chengeta Wildlife will support the APU training. We have no paid staff and all overhead cost up to this point have been underwritten by our board members.

You can be a part of the solution! Join our team here: https://www.facebook.com/chengetavalley

Chengeta Wildlife.org was started by Lisa Groenweg of Rock Valley, Iowa.

Chengeta Wildlife is a group of people from around the world who formed a nonprofit organization to support Rory Young and the work he does. He has skills and knowledge that the teams protecting wildlife badly need to protect themselves and wildlife. If enough funding is generated we would like to purchase tactical equipment needed by the teams. Things like night vision goggles, thermal sensing equipment and motion sensing cameras. Chengeta Wildlife is run by volunteers. So far 100% of funds raised have gone directly to the field where it is desperately needed. WE HAVE ZERO OVERHEAD COSTS!

Like Lisa, we too can do our bit to help combat the horrors of poaching. Collectively, we can ensure the continuation of Chengeta Wildlife’s ability to adequately train and equip the necessary new generation of rangers required to assist the continuation of the circle of life in elephants within their natural habitats in Africa.