Wisdom Of Nature

My passion for the the African bush and all those magnificent animals that leave their

footprints on the sand….raising awareness on the plight of

our wildlife and promoting Chengeta Wildlife.

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A seductive wind ushers in the late afternoon

Brushstrokes of twilight beckon…as crickets gently croon

The heart beat of Africa….warmth oozing beneath your feet

Gusty winds fling a handful of stars….an explosive twinkling treat

This is Africa….in all her naked glory

A land of mixed culture, turbulence, superstitions and stories

Sweet smelling buffalo dung steamed warm in the the early morning sun

Call of the wild…beating to a rhythmic African drum

A land of growling thunder and stinging needle like rain

The pungent smell of a lion…shoulders and head adorned with a wild tawny mane

Where blue headed lizards bask in sunshine and leafy plants unfurl

The liquid murmur of the a river as it flirts and twirls

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A land where spider’s webs are spun with sun glazed thread

Elephants..in threat of extinction as in silence they tread

Where

‘Hope’ the rhino with her brutally disfigured face

Her heart still pounding with courage, dignity and grace

The humble pangolin with their tough armoured shell

Boxed and shipped to Vietnam and China to keep people well

Such beauty and harshness in this our sun burnt land

Cruelty and compassion…..both dealt by the human hand

The wings of the fish eagle caress the mellow breeze

And

Hope must never die as it rustles through the trees

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Bereft of wildlife…the world will be a poorer, darker and lonelier place

A soulless time warp….overcrowded images of the human face

Where desert sands spread as hot steamy winds blow

A chest crushing heat and a lifeless flow

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Align yourself with the wisdom of nature….do what is right

Become a voice for the voiceless…join the fight

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Chengeta Wildlife

We train those who are wildlife’s first line of defense against poachers and poaching syndicates.

During our training operations one group of rangers arrested 81 poachers in 12 days.

Wildlife Trafficking In Hwange

My first recollection of seeing a herd of elephants was on my 5th birthday. They were gigantic, wrinkled and grey. I was sitting cross legged on the wooden floor of a viewing platform overlooking a water hole in the heart of the Hwange Game Reserve. The sleeping water reflected the gilt edged clouds scudding happily across the painted sky and noisy doves policed the mopani woodlands, their melodious calls filling the late afternoon. Looking back, I had not appreciated the freedom of space, the warm breeze caressing my hair and the warmth of the wooden slats toasting my bum and bare brown legs. Small midges floated and whirred around my face… it was perfect, and much to my folks amusement, I announced ‘I saw them yesterday.’ And I continued to play with a doll with staring eyes and yellow hair. Well 50 years on, Hwange’s elephants are once again on my mind.

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Copy write – Artush

Hwange..A Spectacular Corner Of The Earth

 Fingers of sunshine edge over the horizon and breaking free from the thick early morning cloud, they probe deep within the shadows of the teak woodlands. In the warm friendly wash of early morning sunrise the distinct smell of moisture carries on the breeze: a seductive breeze full of promises of much needed rain for this unspoiled bush. Baboons with an excited air of expectation that only the pink wash of dawn brings, stretch, creasing out the night’s wrinkles before leaving the safety of the trees to begin a days foraging.  With the leader barking out instructions, the troop ease out of the shadows and into the sunlight, small babies clinging fearlessly to their mother’s undercarriage. The drum roll duet from a pair of Southern ground Horn bills echoes out as the males deep red creased wattle inflates like an old pair of bellows as he welcomes the early African morning. These gigantic birds are monogamous, pairing for up to 30 or 40 years, unless their mate dies.

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Photo credit DeLoyd Huenink

 

Scaly blue headed lizards bask on the exposed rock enjoying the warmth of the African sun on their bellies as well as their backs as one large rolling eye keeps focused on the wide sky looking for predators and the other eye strays onto a squadron of flies as they buzz low over a huge pile of sweet smelling buffalo dung. Hwange is a special corner of the world: untamed bush and spectacular wildlife. Loping giraffe rise up and stand tall against the thorn veld and mopani woodland while prison garbed zebra lower their heads, large teeth mowing and chewing, ears twitching and eyes watchful. Hwange is Zimbabwe’s largest national park and home to in excess of 100 mammal species and covers 14 540 sq km. During the crisp dry winters and droughts, the animals are entirely dependent on a network of artificial dams and pans fed by boreholes.  The park’s mix of habitats means an unusual biodiversity offering a sybaritic feast of eclectic bush rich in bird life and 108 different species of animals.

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Hwange is home for large herds of lumbering giants and a magic quivers in the air as the subliminal rumble can be felt rather than heard. Elephant family units will split, normally due to a shortage of food in the area. These family units remain united, congregating at watering holes and favourite feeding spots. Meeting up with members from the other unit is also cause for celebration. As vultures whirr high above this sun baked paradise, below the two herds of elephants 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 golden 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. These gregarious animals lower their trunks into the watering pan sucking up deep drafts of sweet life giving liquid and quenching their thirst before throwing warm Hwange sand over their backs. Small calves rough and tumble, their wrinkled trunks entwined and their shrill joyful calls filling the air. Their over sized creased coats are smeared with mud and their large  Africa shaped ears fan the sultry breeze cooling down their body temperatures. A small herd of buffalo have retreated to the other side of the pan, flaring their nostrils and snorting their defiance. The lords of the land, their large trunks with deep fissures swinging free as they rumble their way back into the African bush…the womb of the universe. The matriarchal herd have formed bonds that have been forged over a life time of 40 to 50 years and all young calves remain protected in the bosom of the family. Young males will branch out tasting  independent life at about 15 years of age and females will remain with the herd.

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Their relationship within the family rivals that of humans and they could teach the two legged creature a thing or two about family values and loyalty. Elephants show all the best attributes of mankind with few of them displaying our darker sides. They share this paradise with a multitude of different wildlife. While big cats prowl, the kings proud and vibrant mane halos his strong face. His yellow eyes are focused as he crouches low, camouflaged by the bush. These predators work together: a perfect phalanx  as the strangled cry of a young buffalo fills the air, and the excited cackle of the hyenas resonate as they close in, ready for battle with their age old enemies. These bush battles are as old as time and the winner takes all.

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Today, a much more dangerous force of predators are on the prowl. MAN.

‘According to an undercover wildlife investigator who provided information published in The Star newspaper, the elephant calves are being held at the ZWMA Mtshibi Animal Capture Unit’s holding centre, a few kilometres from Hwange Main Camp, where they’re being vetted for diseases prior to export.

Tourists reported seeing helicopter and ground teams from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) roping the babies after separating them from their mothers by firing shots above the heads of the herd. The calves would be below the age of five and not properly weaned, which reduces their chance of survival.’

This wildlife paradise erupts and tourists become aware of a live horror story taking place as they witness the blatant live capture of baby elephants as they are torn from the safety of the herd. Pulsating blood pushes through veins as these babies hearts pound in fear as their world is ripped apart. The matriarchal herds trumpet in rage as they are chased away by the sharp kkkk of warning shots being fired above their heads from a circling helicopter. A heavy curtain of dust hangs motionless as the net of capture closes in suffocating the small frightened animals. With temporal glands streaming, the captured babies urinate and defecate, their bowels opening in shock and horror, their small trunks lifting to smell the air…wondering where their mothers are.  The shutter of freedom comes banging down, turning these bush elephants into ‘captives’ who will, if they survive the trauma now endure a life time of servitude to man. Dazed and confused, they are pushed into a boma at the ZWMA Mtshibi Animal Capture Unit, where they are being vetted for disease prior to …’a life changing journey ahead of them.’

 As Dame Daphne Sheldrick said ‘Elephants are indeed more ancient, more complex, and in many ways more sophisticated than man. In terms of Nature they are truly more perfect because they remain within the ordered scheme of Nature and live as Nature intended. They are different to us, honed by natural selection over millennia so they should not be patronised, but rather respected and revered. And of all the animals, perhaps the most respected and revered should be the elephant, for not only is the largest land mammal on earth, but also the most emotionally human.”

 Cites have suggested that this is not illegal to export animals….however it is morally wrong. Zimbabwe, we have heard that one of these calves has died. They should never have been taken away from their mothers. This is a disgrace. Please take action and show your support for these sentient animals and the other wildlife involved in this crime. Please take a minute and sign the following petition.

Survivors

DEDICATED TO ALL THOSE ELEPHANTS

THAT HAVE BEEN CALLOUSLY SLAUGHTERED FOR THEIR IVORY

As the morning sun lays a gentle hand across the valley, the young elephant cow remains hidden deep within the shadows of the thick bush. She is desperate to rinse off the uneasiness by bathing in the golden sunshine… but she is being pursued by heart wrenching echos and unsure of how to proceed. Lifting her muscular trunk, she inhales the sweet damp odour of rain on the breeze. Her coat of wrinkles hangs and there is a sadness in her eye as she fans her Africa shaped ears slowly. Her world seems crypt-quiet and motionless. She is 19 years old and the matriarchal duties that have been thrust onto her shoulders is a heavy burden for this young and inexperienced female to carry. It is essential that she is responsible enough to make some tough decisions in life for she must always consider, first and foremost, the well-being and safety of her family over and above the needs of any one individual that happens to fall on hard times. The small agitated herd are waiting impatiently…disturbed by the spirits of the dead as they are all moving into new realms of the unknown. A ravaging thirst has her leading them down to the fast flowing river where they take their fill washing down the choking and suffocating dust before disappearing back into the deep shadows of relative safety. The spell of the homeless winds whistles mournfully through the trees and the young matriarch in a moment of total self trust moves forward. Full of weighty concerns they ghost quietly through the bush, instinct urging her on ….she needs to weave a future for them all from this violent and tangled past.

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CONSUMERS OF IVORY….LISTEN IN ON THEIR WORLD

 A storm of memory has her temporal glands flowing and her heavy heart pounding violently against her rib cage as the currents of evil pulsate in the air. They slip through the shadows touching and caressing family members whose remains lie torn and bleeding into the dry earth. Squadrons of flies, excited by the smell of rotting flesh swarm hungrily over the carcasses. The young matriarch, a trumpet of rage piercing the thick air chases a cackle of hyenas that cavort and whoop loudly, long tendrils of spittle hanging from their ravenous mouths….but she is fighting a losing battle and the small desolate herd move on, vanishing across the twilight. The slow moving mist rises above the valley like an eerie phantom veil.

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Entombed….. the ivory tusks which have been cut into pieces are suffocating under dozens of kilograms of cashew nuts…and on route to China. Each piece of stolen ivory tusk carries with it…an air of sadness and a tale of suffering and death. The unlucky hosts of these pieces of ivory lie spreadeagled and rotting deep within the sun burnt African bush.

This Is The True Cost Of Ivory Trinkets

It is estimated that a seizure rate of 10% in a developed country is considered “good” for general goods contraband – which includes ivory. This suggests that so far this year, an estimated 177,993kg (178 tonnes) of ivory has been illegally trafficked representing 19,400 elephants killed.

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As the golden sunset casts out the remainder of a day, a young girl of 19, her raven black hair shimmering as it swings back and forth on her petite shoulders walks at a steady pace down the busy street, her high heels clipping the pavement with a delicate sound. Her slender arm is stretched out in front of her and she stares down, her dark brown eyes admiring the jewelry on her pale wrist. Creamy and intricately carved bangles jingle as she walks and a small smile of satisfaction sits happily upon her lips. IF IVORY COULD TALK….she would be able to picture the scene of mutilated and bloated carcasses rotting in the African bush. She would hear the terrified screams as bullets tear into flesh and the stench of their blood would fill her nostrils. Her heart would hammer painfully as the young matriarch whose older sisters and mother have been mown down to fulfill China’s demand for ivory is caught up in the evil web of human greed and deceit and unsure of how to lead her herd and keep them safe. She would look down on the ivory bangles encircling her wrist and feel their pain and sorrow searing into her flesh…..she would, I hope…..SAY NO TO IVORY and become a voice for the voiceless.

watermarked....elephants caught in the web of human deceit

Human Tragedies

 Some of Africa’s most notorious armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Shabab and Darfur’s janjaweed, are hunting down elephants and using the tusks to buy weapons and sustain their mayhem. Organized crime syndicates are linking up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa to China, law enforcement officials say.

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PLEASE DO NOT LOOK THE OTHER WAY

THE RANGERS AND THE WILDLIFE NEED OUR SUPPORT

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Chengeta Wildlife

The Tashinga Initiative

MAPP

Tipping Point

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A shocking study published in August by American academics states that Africa’s elephant population has reached tipping point, that poachers are now killing more elephants than are being born, and the species is heading for extinction. According to the lead author, Colorado State University’s George Wittemyer, ‘We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent.’

I read this paragraph with a deep feeling of over whelming sadness as a memory clear as a snapshot comes to mind. Eye to eye with an elephant is an image and feeling that I covet with jealousy.

Elephant eye

I gasp for breath, late afternoon shadows creeping up and over my feet as I stand transfixed with my knees shaking. I peer out from behind the rough textured tree trunk and gape open mouthed at the gigantic and magnificent visitor. She seems unconcerned as her muscled and versatile trunk with its finger like nobes gently clip the acacia pods before starting the epic journey from trunk end to mouth. I know she is aware of me and I am convinced that she must be able to hear my heart pounding violently against my ribcage. My mouth is so dry that the innerfolds are stuck to my teeth. I feel that I could reach out and touch her…..but she is not an arms length away…..it just feels like it. However, I will never forget the vibration and energy that surrounds her as it reaches out engulfing the space between us…….bewitching me. I can see the abrasive hide covering her body and smell the sweet odour of earthiness in the swirling dust freckling gently over my sunburnt feet. Listening to her sing in multi layered cadences as the warm and heavy late afternoon breathes slowly, I feel a gut wrenching emptyness as she turns away, her large rump rolling from side to side. As a large drop of sun lingers, idle in it’s goodbyes, I stand rooted to the spot, my heart pounding as the small herd of elephants pulsate to a barefoot shuffle…..melting deep into the evening bush. I am left feeling stranded as the low frequency purr that you can feel rather than hear slowly ebbs away. I wipe my damp hands down my hips as the sun gradually slides away, a gold wash marking the end of an exciting day.

close enough to count the wrinkles

(Okay…so I did not mention the electric strand running around the property)

I often think about this small herd of elephants and wonder how they are fearing. I hope that the Matriarch with her uneven tusks is still leading her family as they flirt with the starlit heavens. I pray that they are escaping the hush of death. These ‘Megagardeners’ are an intricate part of the African bush and do not senselessly destroy the environment. They modify the bush/veldt by opening up the thickly tangled woodlands and allowing grasslands to regenerate. As much as 80% of what an elephant consumes is dropped back, barely digested to the soil…..allowing evolutions slow magic to provide. This form of manure is highly fertile and the remainder of the tree that has been pushed over is consumed by other creatures…..or it decomposes enriching the earth for other vegetation.

It is only man that destroys

As deeper currents of greed blow on the breeze….Africa’s wildlife is under continual attack.

Consumers of ivory…your demand is shredding elephant society and exterminating populations across the Continent.

SAY NO IVORY

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When I boarded the plane that would fly me to a distant land, I took only my memories and left nothing but my footprints and a land where the elephants were once free. Poachers play by a different set of rules…..and so do ivory and rhino horn consumers. My life has been enriched by the presence of these iconic animals in the African bush…warm happy memories that leaves peace in my heart and a melody of bush whispers caressing my soul.

Consumers of ivory….I ask….how can you desire something so symbolic of suffering and death. Elephant herds are at tipping point…..their trunks reaching high in silent prayer as their destinies are shaped by the buffeting winds. Hear the whisper of their prayers and feel their fear and sadness pulsating through the ivory that adorns your window sill, wrist or table. Armed men with hungry eyes and dark thoughts are leaving ugly scars on the African landscape as elephant tusks, rhino horn and other animals body parts come to rest half a world away from where they belong…..to feed the demand. Elephants, the wealthy hosts of ivory are being devoured by these dark and menacing shadows.

Breathe in deeply…and feel the hot searing pain from survivors as they return to the killing fields….chasing scavengers away before running their trunks gently over the mutilated remains of family members…..mourning and paying their respects to the dead.  Allow the emotion from an old bull as he straddles his fallen comrade, attempting to keep the scorching heat from the midday sun off the dying elephant as it beats down, relentless and demanding to fill your dreams. Embrace the despair as the old bull’s large broken tusks gouge into the soft earth as he attempts to lift him…..to no avail. Weep as the old bull sucks up water from a nearby spring spraying it over the dying elephants noble head and large ears, cooling him down and enticing him to drink. As silence spreads it’s wings over the bush…..the old bull stays close…the heavy silence of loss flanking him.

Knowledge comes from knowledge….do not try to tell me that this bull was not embracing an act of caring and kindness.

PEOPLE

This Is The True Cost Of Ivory Trinkets

For those consumers of rhino horn…..I am a mother of two and like you, your wife, your sister or mother……I will never forget the powerful emotion of carrying a child within my womb. I will never forget the kindness bestowed upon me by the nurses when I was in labour, feeling totally out of control, frightened and in pain. Think back….enjoy the reflection…feel.

Now experience the throbbing pain from this pregnant rhino in labour as she battles through contactions, her vast low slung belly heaving. She is alone and vulnerable. Out of the shadows they come…vehicles of destruction as her  life is cut short while trying to give birth…and she is forever frozen in time. Her personal treasure is her undoing. These hardened poachers butcher the horn from her face, their hands and arms thick with blood….before sliding away…soundless, voiceless and souless..leaving bloddied footprints in their wake.  This act of destruction and violence is to feed your demand for rhino horn. Feel our anger as dark charcoal clouds are thrown across the sky….as the miracle within her…will never come to pass. Let these dark clouds spill over…and know in no uncertain terms that what you are doing is wrong.  Knowledge comes from knowledge…..

baby rhino being born

ELEPHANT POACHING.. ‘A NATIONAL DISASTER’.

The mutilated bodies of elephants are left behind to decay in the bush but their personal treasures or blood ivory leaves a trail of red that stretches from Africa by air, sea and highway into Chinese carving factories. China has 37 licensed carving factories and calls to shut down these factories are studiously ignored. Zhao Shucong is the man who approves the licensing of these state sanctioned factories.

CHINA CLOSE DOWN YOUR CARVING FACTORIES (Please sign this petition)

Elephants are a source of great peace and wisdom that us humans should take note off. Humans, as the ‘rational thinking animals’ have the ability to alter their destructive tendencies. The thought of a world without these sentient giants is unthinkable. We have already caused such disharmony in their lives..but there is time to change..but we have to do it now. The challenge now..is to reshape some outdated perceptions and we all need to play a role.

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CHENGETA WILDLIFE

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 rhinos and elephants: the very essence that adds to Africa’s magic.

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WHAT CAN YOU DO?  (SIGN THE PETITION)

PLEASE DO NOT LOOK THE OTHER WAY

THE RANGERS AND THE WILDLIFE NEED OUR SUPPORT

Chengeta Wildlife

The Tashinga Initiative

MAPP

Innocent Blood

There is something infinitely healing in the assurance that the pink wash of dawn always breaks free from the long dark night and the fresh breath of spring seduces the coldness out of the winter days. I am sitting watching an autumn breeze blowing through the trees, stealing the foliage and leaving the branches bare. What strikes me though…is nature knows best. There is not the heavy silence of loss. These bare branches will soon sprout and turn green again. However, when an elephant or rhino is poached, the soft weary tread of feet on the road is ………no more.………just the hush of death and the mournful ballad of the coucal.

Extinction is forever.

Africa’s bush, a grand and wondrous spectacle awash in colours and odours is under constant attack. Godless scenes of destruction and cruelty are encountered on a daily basis by the brave Rangers doing their utmost to keep the wildlife safe. Wheeling vultures circle and a foul miasmic presence leads the rangers in this case to a scene so horrific…it defies description. Consumers of rhino horn..LOOK at what your demand is doing to these magnificent and prehistoric animals.

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image of a rhino...brutally mutilated

As you grind your rhino horn mixture..take a deep breath and feel the intense and burning pain of this animal left in a sticky pool of blood. Not only has this poor animal’s horn been brutally chopped and torn from it’s face, her eyes have been hacked out leaving her blind. WHY ? This black rhino was found staggering around, her large head blistering like a sweltering inferno as it hangs heavy and low to the ground. Brushstrokes of blood pool deep in the shadows and deeper currents of greed blow on the breeze. This is a barbaric act that needs to be seen and told to the deluded consumers of rhino horn.

A week ago animal lovers (myself included), the world over marched for elephants and rhinos across 136 cities and across six continents. The howling of a frustrated wind as we all stood together as one voice refusing to allow these animals to fall through the ever widening cracks into chaos. As time disappears in dusky sunlight and smoke, rhinos and elephants lives fade like passing shadows and a week on from the marches..the slaughter continues. However, we must not give up hope. During these dark and turbulent times, we need to regroup and weave a future for these animals from the tangled past.

PLEASE DO NOT LOOK THE OTHER WAY : WE ALL NEED TO PLAY A PART…NO MATTER HOW SMALL

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.rory young twitt

For anti-poaching activist and forestry expert Rory Young, his passion for saving the African elephant from deadly poachers involves a detailed field manual and arming local teams with firearms to combat what he calls, “well-armed, ruthless and experienced gangs of poachers.

I have been asked and have accepted with great honour and delight a position on Chengeta Wildlife’s Board of  Directors.

‘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.’

The programme is already proving successful as anti-poaching operations undertaken as part of the training uncovered several poaching syndicates operating in the area, some with links to neighboring Mozambique and as far away as China, highlighting the global scale of the poaching problem.  Arrests were made and the culprits handed over to the appropriate authorities.

I will do what I can to raise awareness and funds for Chengeta Wildlife and ensure that Rory Young can continue to offer first class training to Rangers throughout Africa.

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Under an African sky that is as limitless as it is wide, a world of corruption, violence and greed mars the beauty of this sun baked land and when there is a demand..money talks.

CHINA CLOSE DOWN YOUR CARVING FACTORIES (Please sign this petition)

Inside these factories, Chinese carvers with masks covering their noses and mouths sit hunched over their desks. Under bright artificial strip lights, the ivory tusk lies lifeless. Please do not look at the ivory as a commodity. Run your hand down the length of the tusk and imagine the bubbling mass of exuberance that is an elephant.. a breathing and iconic animal that has emotions on a par with man.

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The large wrinkled noble head and muscular trunk is lifted, tasting the sweetness on the breeze. She is a dab hand at assisting in birth and she senses that the new calf will soon join her herd. The warm and heavy evening exhales slowly, appearing to hold its breath as the excited cows , temporal glands flowing sing in multi-layered cadences encouraging the pregnant cow as she bears down. As the mornings slow lazy light caresses the hills, a new miracle is taking its first shaky steps as long wrinkled and powerful trunks offer a gentle welcome. The excitement is shattered by the cruel barking of automatic fire as the new miracle of life and all the excited cows slump heavily onto the ground.

These are the tusks that are stolen from elephants and any legal carving or trade is a conduit and and cover for China’s vast illegal market. While Zhao Shucong as China’s State Forrestry Administrator continues to license China’s 37 Carving factories and 140 ivory retail outlets, elephant families like the one above will continue to be callously slaughtered and their mutilated bodies left to swell and rot under the burning African sun.

Run your eyes over that magnificent tusk intricately carved with a herd of elephants..ivory bodies gleaming under the light.  This large tusk belonged to a middle aged  matriarch, her head full of knowledge yet to be passed on to her daughter.

CHINA..CLOSE DOWN THE CARVING FACTORIES (Please sign this petition)

Keep On Marching

Nine months ago I was told that there was nothing that I could personally do to stop the slaughter of these animals. Well maybe not…but I was not going to become a silent witness to this rampant destruction. I was not going to watch from the sidelines as elephants and rhinos evaporate into the mist…lost in translation and crushed under the heels of supposed civilization.

Disturbing images of mutilated and bloated elephant carcasses jump off the page as a person’s mind closes down and they are unable to look and so I decided that I would raise awareness on the plight of these animals through the pent up emotion that pounds through my veins. I am a white African with a deep passion for this harsh and timeless land..that is the African bush and the wildlife. My passion for elephants began many years ago and as I have grown so has my love and respect for them. These ambassadors of the wild have shared with us their intelligence, love and compassion and I feel that we owe it them to stop the destruction. There is a magic that surrounds elephants and I aspire to be a part of the force that ensure that they continue to spread their harmony over the sun drenched bush.

I always wanted to be one of the herd

jenny as elephant - ready to send

All one needs is the passion to to go out there and do what you have to do. My passion spurs me on. There is always something that each person can do to assist in this ‘poaching war.’ I have built my blog from 6 hits to 15 000 hits and my main aim was to appeal to the Chinese people that buying something so symbolic of suffering and death is morally wrong. 9 months later..the most traffic onto my blog is  from China.  As the weeks passed like fading shadows, I felt like I was still drifting in the stream of the world and this was not good enough. I would be delighted if my blog was earning money..but it does not and the fire in my belly is always to do more and through a series of events I came across Chengeta Wildlife.

rory young anti poaching

Rory Young is a professional tracker with 25 years of experience and he is also the co-author of ‘A Field Manual For Anti-Poaching Activities.’ and he has embarked on an honorable journey of sharing his knowledge and skills. 

‘This book is the first of its kind, showing clearly how poaching processes work and explaining the strategies, skills and techniques necessary to disrupt those processes. It stresses the need for deterrence and how to stop the problem before it starts. The goal is to provide a free printed copy to all anti-poaching units.’

A manual well worth reading..and full of information.  This manual 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.

 Chengeta Wildlife is a force for good, offering a comprehensive solution to help combat the evils of poaching and I was inspired and determined to help in raising some funds for them.

I have now been asked and have accepted with great honour and delight a position on Chengeta Wildlife’s Board of  Directors.

‘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.’

The programme is already proving successful as anti-poaching operations undertaken as part of the training uncovered several poaching syndicates operating in the area, some with links to neighboring Mozambique and as far away as China, highlighting the global scale of the poaching problem.  Arrests were made and the culprits handed over to the appropriate authorities.

I am  helping to ensure that these giants along with rhinos, lions and other wildlife will continue to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs.

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What else can I do? Never in my wildest dreams did I see my African self marching in defense of elephants and rhinos in LONDON. What an amazing atmosphere there was on Saturday 4th October. Despite the rain which was reluctant to lift and let the sun break free from the grey clouds, the little girls were bubbling with excitment even though their view of the crowd did not get above hip height. They wore their home painted ‘Chengeta Wildlife’ tee shirts with pride, happy to show their backs to anyone who would look. The noise amplified into an overpowering hum, echoing off the large buildings towering high in this concrete jungle..a far cry from the tangled bush and cerulean sky..home of the African Elephants and Rhinos. Inhaling the sweet damp scent of rain we marched with our Zimbabwean flag held high becoming one with the noisy teeming mass of humanity as we marched, chatted, laughed and shouted. As I marched I could feel soft whispers from the African bush and the hair on the nape of my neck prickled and a lump the size of a green apple was lodged firmly in my throat. My memories, sweet with the wonder of seeing these majestic giants in the wild and compels me to do anything in my power to help to ensure that these memories do not become just faded photographs in my memoirs: crumpled pages of inadequate words.

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Our little girls – dressed and ready to march for Elephants and Rhinos and showing their support for Chengeta Wildlife

Thousands of people had taken to the streets in 130 cities around the world lifting their voices to raise awareness of the plight faced by these critically endangered animals.

‘The Global March for Elephants and Rhinos will aim to achieve a full worldwide ban on the trade of ivory and rhino horn, the implementation of tougher penalties for wildlife crime, and the strengthening of law enforcement in consumer countries and range states. In addition, they will also make the demand that ivory and rhino shops and carving factories are shut down immediately.’

China..as I have said many times…’Hear the mournful ballad of the grey dove as death: a foul miasmic presence reaches out over the sun kissed bush of Africa. This is a scene that should be grotesque and offensive to eyes, ears and nostrils..and to those people who buy ivory. Sadly money talks..and money only talks when there is a demand. STOP THE DEMAND AND CLOSE THE CARVING FACTORIES.

CHINA..THIS IS THE TRUE COST OF IVORY TRINKETS

The mutilated bodies of elephants are left behind in the bush but their personal treasures or blood ivory leaves a trail of blood that stretches from Africa by air, sea and highway into Chinese carving factories. China has 37 licensed carving factories and calls to shut down these factories are studiously ignored. Mr. Zhao Shucong holds the destiny of Africa’s magnificent giants in his hands. China and Mr. Zhao Shucong needs to take responsibility for the fact that they are fueling the trade that is decimating African elephants. Here is a petition demanding that China bans all ivory

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Elephants are a source of great peace and wisdom that us humans should take note off. Humans, as the ‘rational thinking animals’ have the ability to alter their destructive tendencies. The thought of a world without these sentient giants is unthinkable. We have already caused such disharmony in their lives..but there is time to change..but we have to do it now. The challenge now..is to reshape some outdated perceptions and we all need to play a role.

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Poaching is illegal. The consequences of being caught must out weigh the rewards.

Please have a look at our amazing website: chengetawildlife.org

”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

GO OUT AND DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO HELP SAVE ELEPHANTS AND RHINOS

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The True Cost of IvoryTrinkets

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The mist floats reluctant to lift, noiseless as it crawls up and over the roof tops. A drowsy murmur floats in the air as the grey morning creeps in, slow and languid. I pick up my copy of ‘A field Manual for Anti-Poaching Activities’ written by Rory Young and Yakov Alekseyev and lose myself in the information.

On page 32…232 of the manual:

New Contacts:

‘Normal citizens often require a ‘nudge’ before taking action’.

I stop reading and with my finger tracing over these powerful words, I smile thinking back over the reasons why I had become involved with raising awareness on the plight of the elephants. There are many different reasons. I have spent untold weeks of my life romancing the African bush and elephants, richly endowed with all the better attributes of mankind have ambled through the twilight and past our camp many times, their low rumbles capturing my imagination and my heart. As the early sunrise explodes over the horizon and the breeze caresses the early morning dew, my heart is at one with this sun baked land of extremes and I live for the next moment when I will become aware of that low frequency purr that you can feel rather than hear as these giants ghost into view. As the bright golden sunshine cradles the end of another exciting day, and that special woody smell of mopani smoke lingers on your clothes, Africa, in all its wildness, harshness and beauty would be like an empty shell without elephants, rhinos and other endangered game.

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Dedicated to all those brave rangers fighting for the endangered wildlife

I have such a huge admiration for the men on the ground. They are fighting against vicious gangs of poachers..ruthless hardened men. African elephants are being slaughtered at an alarming rate to satisfy the soaring demand for ivory among China’s middle class. Hundreds of rangers have been murdered in the defence of endangered wildlife.

When long shadows and weary strides signal the end of a sultry day, these brave men and women have to rid themselves of the dark hungry presence and repugnant odour of death that clings long after the spent cartridges and freshly mutilated elephants or rhinos have been found. They patrol the sun kissed bush which has turned in a raw and violent battlefield. As stars cool down the darkest sky, the rich smell of evening and fire smoke keeps squadrons of mosquitoes at bay as the young ranger squats, drunk with fatigue and deep in thought as he stares into the rich red smoldering coals. A couple of small children with their somber brown eyes and tight knit curls rough and tumble in the dirt. Puffs of dust freckle lightly over their ebony cheeks. A tinkle of laughter erupts from these two bundles of concentrated energy reminding the young ranger that there is some normality to life despite the constant reminder of this poaching war. The nightmares, set like snap shots in his mind will sneak up on him later in the dead of night. Pulling the two children close, he ruffles their hair..now is family time.

As the morning lays a gentle hand over the peaceful valley, the bush is coming alive with early morning songsters chorusing from the trees. The young man picks up his weapon and laying a gentle hand on each small head, he waves them goodbye stepping out and disappearing into the early shadows of the bush to join his fellow rangers. 10 kilometers further down the river line a small herd of elephants feel the throb of the valley beneath their feet. They have left behind a night full of hovering moths and a galaxy of mosquitoes. Their large trunks swing freely and they are fully engaged in the  beauty surrounding them. Two small calves are being raised within this warm and loving environment and their confidence is obvious as they frolic with exuberance and noisy splendour. There is always a large muscled trunk caressing or guiding an infant through the swirl of dust. Gentle rumbles vibrate on the breeze and there is a feeling of calm. The matriarch has led this herd for 25 years now and her daughters are learning the journey through her memory. They are a close knit family group.

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‘KKKKKK’ the angry bark of automatic rifles explodes and the sky bursts open. The small herd of unsuspecting elephants are hard hit and they crash one after the other into the dry parched earth, their tormented cries piercing through the early morning. The small calf loiters, frightened by the chaos and by the thick odour of blood and smell of gunpowder. She has no where to run and no where to hide. With her small heart hammering she reaches out with her trunk, tentatively smelling and prodding her mother whose eyes stare..unseeing. She has been frozen in time. The small calf is the sole survivor..all that is left from this loving herd. There is a silence of emptiness and melancholy hangs. The trees stand, witnesses to the carnage as the silence shredding cicadas once again saw the air.

Using axes the poachers work quickly to remove the tusks before evaporating into the bush, their blood stained shoulders bearing the brunt of their ill gotten gains. The young ranger and his group have heard the shots and are moving towards the killing grounds, their expressions tense and their brows furrowing with concentration and it is a couple of hours later that they stumble into the nightmare of torn flesh. Stopping briefly, they decide on their course of action, and picking up the tracks, they follow. They track for a few hours and covering a huge distance. The young ranger, a deep anger burning within his chest did not stand a chance. The poachers came upon him all silent and menacing..a phalanx of ruthless killers. His untrained follow up had him walking straight into their ambush and into automatic fire. Fortunately for them, his colleagues who were lagging way behind, stop to help him and once again the poachers slip the net.

She looked stricken, shrunken and immensely old as they laid him gently down onto the sheet on the floor of the room. Two pairs of huge round eyes swimming with tears peer out from behind her garish skirt. He will never lay a gentle hand on their heads again.

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The air is no longer filled with shouts of laughter, giddiness and urgency. Outside, the blood red streaks of twilight are fading fast. Under the grotesque limbs of the listening tree, the small elephant calf, the tip of her trunk stained rusty red stands dejected and lost. The empty skies stares down. Two families from two species have lost loved ones…. 

The mutilated bodies of elephants are left behind in the bush but their personal treasures or white gold leaves a trail of blood that stretches from Africa by air, sea and highway into Chinese carving factories. China has 37 licensed carving factories and calls to shut down these factories are studiously ignored. Zhao Shucong is the man who approves the licensing of these state sanctioned factories…all in the name of ivory trinkets. 

China…this is the tortured scene of desolation and loss..the true cost of ivory trinkets. Lives are being destroyed by the unquenchable lust for ivory.  China..close down the ivory carving factories.

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For anti-poaching activist and forestry expert Rory Young, his passion for saving the African elephant from deadly poachers involves this detailed field manual and arming local teams with firearms to combat what he calls, “well-armed, ruthless and experienced gangs of poachers.

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.

I had been lost in thought and once again look down on the ‘Field Manual for Anti-Poaching Activities’ manual sitting on my lap. I feel for these men on the ground who are struggling in this poaching war.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.

‘My chosen cause is Chengeta Wildlife and 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.’

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

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PLEASE DO NOT LOOK THE OTHER WAY

THE RANGERS AND THE WILDLIFE NEED OUR SUPPORT

Chengeta Wildlife

The Tashinga Initiative

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Trail Of Blood

My jaw drops open and I stand gulping like a guppy.  I cannot believe what I am hearing from my Chinese colleague. Here we are in the 21st centuary and this incredibly beautiful minute woman with her porclain face and raven coloured hair is telling me in her quaint lilting voice that ivory is a status symbol in every good chinese home. I gasp and the air feels hot in my lungs as she informs me she has never given much thought as to how and where the tusks find their way to China. I shake my head and I can feel a frown pulling my eyebrows together.

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‘White Gold’ is maybe what you call it Kim.’ My voice is low and intense, ‘but I call it blood ivory.’ The expression in her dark eyes as they rise to meet my blue stare is blank. I feel soft whispers from the bush and the hair on the nape of my neck prickles. My memories, sweet with the wonder of seeing these majestic giants in the wild wash over me and I find myself staring deep within this Chinese girl’s soul. She is genuinely ignorant about blood ivory. ‘Come, lets go and buy a cup of coffee.’ I hook my arm through hers and we wend our way through numerous tables covered in bright coloured clothes to a corner in the courtyard..quiet and private. I am going to inform her of the human footprints leaving an ugly scar on the land. Footprints that are small in size pointing to the fact that China is driving the demand for ivory which in turn is fuelling the trade that has African elephants poised on the edge of ‘extinction’.

‘Love for ivory is in our blood. It is etched deeply into the Chinese identity.’ Her eyes are downcast and her voice is low. I nod and say nothing. I am confident that by the time we have drunk our coffee this will be one Chinese girl who most definitely will not every want to own any ivory..no matter how deeply etched it is in her identity.

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‘Kim, you need to listen in on their world and hear their desperate cries. 100 of these sentient animals are slaughtered per day to feed the ivory demand. Get caught in the mist that floats, reluctant to lift as muffled screams slice through the air. Allow the stench of gun powder and torn flesh to fill your nostrils. Feel the weight of the trees as they bow down, silent witnesses to the carnage. Cry as the large full term pregnant cow in labour, her full belly encumbering her desperate escape collapses in a heap, her symetrical tusks carving a deep ridge in the ground that is pooling with her blood. With one last convulsive shudder, she finishes off what she had started before the first bullet tore into her face. With her death she expells the miracle of new life which she has nurtured inside for the past 22 months. A small perfectly formed baby elephant lies immobile and defenceless..surrounded by the carcasses of what would have been her family..a family where deep bonds would have been forged over the next 40 years. A feast for those scavengers that will be attracted by the tortured screams and stench of blood carried on the wind.

This is only the beginning of the journey for your ‘white gold’. An elephants tusks are deeply embedded into the skull. You need to stare deep into the unseeing eyes of a slaughtered elephant..eyes that have been blurred by tears and fear. In some cases eyes that have glazed over with agony when the first thud of the axe falls before the heart stops beating. Hear the mournful ballad of the grey dove as death: a foul miasmic presence reaches out over the sun kissed bush of Africa. This is a scene that should be grotesque and offensive to eyes, ears and nostrils..and to those people who buy ivory.  Sadly money talks..and money only talks when there is a demand.

The mutilated bodies of elephants are left behind in the bush but their personal treasures or blood ivory leaves a trail of blood that stretches from Africa by air, sea and highway into Chinese carving factories. China has 37 licensed carving factories and calls to shut down these factories are studiously ignored. Zhao Shucong is the man who approves the licensing of these state sanctioned factories.

Inside these factories Chinese carvers, with masks covering their noses and mouths sit hunched over their desks. Under bright artificial strip lights, the ivory tusk lies lifeless. A carver gently runs his hand down the length of ‘dentine’ that is all that remains from a magnificent giant that had proudly ambled under a cerulean sky for close on 45 years, her enormous trunk swinging freely as she communicated with her family members through a series of low frequency sounds that is undetected by the human ear..before being callously slaughtered. Lifting up a tool, he starts to whittle away at the polished tusk and she will be turned into a fancy carved ornament for somebody to pay a kings ransom for.

Today’s modern power-driven rotary saws and dental-like drills have revolutionized the art of ivory carving! Using carving skills perfected over 40 years, the  carvers will painstakingly transform these pieces of dead ivory into sculptures. This could take months or even up to a year depending on the size of the tusks.

‘Going back to what you said about the Chinese peoples love for ivory being in their blood and the fact that it is etched deeply into the Chinese identity, Kim. Sadly.. the Chinese lust for ivory is causing a blood bath.’ I insist quietly, my heart hammering unevenly. ‘Have you every heard of Mr. Zhao Shucong? We need him to acknowledge that when the buying stops..so will the killing.’

Her dark smoldering eyes dart away. ‘I have heard of Mr. Zhao Shucong. He is the head of the State Forestry Admin. He is a powerful man.’

‘Kim, he is a very powerful man. Mr. Zhao Shucong not only approves licenses for the carving factories but also for the bear bile farms, tiger bone wine and much much more. Mr. Zhao Shucong holds the destiny of Africa’s gentle giants in his hands. China and Mr. Zhao Shucong needs to take responsibility for the fact that they are fueling the trade that is decimating African elephants. Here is a petition demanding that China bans all ivory.‘ I whip out my phone and find the page to show her..’I will tag you in it and then you can sign?’

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 Q&A: To Stem Africa’s Illegal Ivory Trade to Asia, Focus on Key Shipping Ports

‘There are three main ports in Africa being used to traffic ivory: Mombasa, in Kenya, and Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, in Tanzania.These are the people who essentially grease the machine that enables illicit ivory to get from Africa to Asia. 

The report notes that port activity in West Africa surged in the past year. Do you think this trend will continue?

I do, but I think it will be short-lived. Southern Africa is where the trend will go. Elephants are disappearing in West Africa, and the trade is moving east, which is why you see Mombasa and Dar es Salaam as big points of export.

Eventually the real profit will be hitting southern African elephants, which have historically been the most robust populations but will become targets as the trend sees localized extinctions in other parts of Africa.

To see more on these questions and answers …see more

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Kim is shaking her head. ‘I honestly did not know that such huge numbers of elephants were being killed for their ivory. I am ashamed to say that I have never thought about it. Are there people trying to protect these animals in Africa?’ There are no tears. She is far too controlled for that, but I have worked with her for long enough to know that she is upset, and embarrassed at her ignorance.

‘Yes, Kim there are. In Zimbabwe, the country that I come from there are a few different wildlife groups involved and many rangers are murdered through out Africa..frozen in time for ever, just like the wildlife they are trying to protect. Kim, it is sad because these rangers are trying to stop the elephants and other wildlife from being killed so that people can buy ivory and other animal parts. It is not only elephants that suffering, Kim. The rhinos are also being slaughtered for their horn. It has been scientifically proven that the rhino horn holds no magic cures for man. This ivory that your people lust for is shrouded in blood and flames.’

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Chengeta Wildlife

The Tashinga Initiative

MAPP

‘My chosen cause is Chengeta Wildlife and 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.’

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.

one killed every 15 mins

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Elephants, said Young, are the “most magnificent creatures.”

“They can empathize. They’re self-aware,” he went on to say. “When I see an elephant lying dead on the ground, it’s like seeing a friend getting shot.”

But if elephants went extinct, we wouldn’t just be losing an extraordinary animal, we’d also have an environmental calamity on our hands.

“Elephants are a keystone species,” said Young. “They have a profound effect on the ecosystem. If you protect an elephant, you protect the environment and all the animals around them.”  To read More……

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SAY NO TO IVORY

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

PLEASE DO NOT LOOK THE OTHER WAY

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.

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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.

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WHAT CAN YOU DO ?

Support the men on the ground

Chengeta Wildlife

The Tashinga Initiative

MAPP

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.

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Up Close and Personal With An Elephant

In January 2014 the cold wet winter was beginning to gnaw at my bones and my feet seemed to be in a constant state of numbness.

‘I am panicking, Gary. My feet are so numb that I can no longer feel the throb of Africa beneath them. I have got to get out and see some wildlife.’ I smile pathetically. ‘I suppose Zimbabwe is not an option?’

We settle on a day trip to Whipsnade Zoo. Our two little girls bob along excited to be out to see the elephants which their ‘Gog’ (me) goes on and on about. Dark brooding clouds tower high and accompanied by an angry growl of thunder, the heavens open and rain like a thick drape has us sprinting for cover.  We stand with our noses pressed against the glassed doors of a restaurant waiting patiently for the sun to struggle through the thick blanket of clouds. Once the heavens stopped scowling down on us and veiled in a gauzy haze we venture out to see the animals.

I have nothing negative to say about Whipsnade Zoo. They do have outside fields to meander through.

However..a lump the size of a green apple is lodged firmly in my throat as I watch the elephants: ‘Prisoners of the times we are living in’ and I feel sad for them.

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Our two little angels are full of starlight, fizzing over with excitment. They have been so close to real live elephants. Real live elephants..I drift off.. a funny little smile shaping my lips and my butt muscles twitch and tighten. Real live elephants in the bush..and a little too close for comfort. I think back to one of our fishing trips in the Zambezi Valley.

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Our small green canvas tent sits like a blot under the large acacia tree. The guy ropes are strung taut keeping us upright in this wild paradise. The dry parched earth rolls down to the vast Zambezi river and small puffs of dust hang motionless in the still afternoon before freckling lightly over the tinder dry vegetation. The expansive river glistens: undulating in the mellow warmth of the late afternoon. A lone vervet monkey stares down from the low hanging branch. With the stealth and speed of a professional thief he shinnies down, grabbing a couple of bananas not a foot away from my chair and disappears into the high branches…raising his eyebrows..and grinning at my dumbfounded expression.

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Warmth spreads like sunshine on my soul. Life does not get much better than this. Squadrons of midges and flies hover with summer laziness, irritating but also a part of evolution’s slow magic.

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On the edge of earth and heaven, the large golden sun breaks free from the brooding clouds bathing the bush in a warm coppery glow.  A solitary bull elephant ambles along the rich banks of the Zambezi river,tearing up grass and hyacinth with his large and rather formidable trunk. His weather worn tusks sweep out in front and although he is close, I focus in on him through the binoculars and can see the deeply incised grass-notch an inch or two from the tip of his right tusk. Bronzed by the afternoon glare and scolded by the fork tailed drongo he is surely one of the most noble and dignified animals in the animal kingdom. He continues to sway as light as a dancer and I feel my heart sink as he disappears out of sight. The air continues to pulse with a subliminal rumble you feel rather than hear. African Jacanas trot lightly over a rich carpet of water hyacinth boasting beautiful blue flowers and I am certain I can hear fish slapping the water. Evening stitches the horizon with the last of its golden thread. The liquid murmur of the river and the evocative call of the fish eagle brings the perfect afternoon to a close. The day has slipped through my fingers.

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The smoke from the mopani fire helps to keep the mosquitoes at bay and we sit relaxed and happy listening to the hippo grunting and a cacophony of frogs and crickets. Africa’s nights are never lonely. Too soon we are lying in our minute tent, fingers entwined listening to the wind flirting with the trees and a distant echo of a throaty roar. There is peace in the solitude and I close my eyes drifting in that wondrous space between wakefulness and sleep.

As tender beams from the African half moon peek gently through the gauze window, the tree above us explodes and acacia pods come raining down. I sit bolt upright as Gary puts his hand firmly over my mouth whispering to me to be quiet. Peeping out the small gauze window of the tent, the most enormous wrinkled and abrasive looking back legs are blocking my view. The bull is leaning his full weight against the tree and rocking it back and forth, his large holed ears folded back onto his massive shoulders. The three foot of thick wiry hair on the end of his four foot tail, all 8 to 10 kgs of it thrashes the gauze window not an inch from my face.  The metallic taste of blood clogs my throat and I realize I am biting down on my lip. Time has stood still. The pungent smell of urine invades the tent as he lets forth with a warm stream that surges onto the parched earth . I am mesmerized as he turns side on rasping back and forth along the tree, his gigantic backside firmly on the guy rope. Our small tent whirs back and forth..feeble in its stance. Rumbling with pleasure, his large trunk swings freely as the finger like nobes on the end fold over the juicy pods and they start the epic journey from tent top to his mouth. This ambassador of the wild appears to cross the moonlight disappearing quietly and with dignity into the dark shadows. Silence returns to the valley and the liquid murmur of the river flows merrily as it carves its way to the sea.

The silence of emptiness hangs..and I turn to Gary with a relieved yet sad grin. ‘WOW’.

Footprints

This is Africa’s bush life in all its beauty.

My day at the zoo has been an eye opener for me and I cannot help but compare this day with my experiences in the valley. It reafirms my commitment to do all I can to help preserve our heritage. These enormous animals belong on the land and I cannot imagine a trip to our magical place in the Zambezi valley to find it empty of elephants.

These inconic animals are the essence of the African bush and at present they are being poached at a rate of 100 a day. To those fueling the demand which in turn fuels the destruction, do you have any idea of the chaos and death 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 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.

rory and co

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!

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

A manual well worth reading..and full of information.  This manual 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.

Let us ensure that these animals continue to wear their tusks with pride. ( My Poem)