Celebrating Elephants On World Elephant Day

In an explosion of gold the sun caresses the new dawn

A symphony of bird song seduces the mellow morn

Silken spiderwebs as delicate as gossamer lace

Kissed by the sunshine in this magical place

Elephants herd running

Elephants full of unwavering honesty amble into the light

Bronzed by the sunshine….a magnificent sight

Mystery behind their wrinkled visage….a powerful life thread

The steaming earth pulsates with each massive tread

Deep elephant grumbles rolling like thunder on the sultry morning breeze

Flaxen dust hangs motionless… freckling russet leaves

Their grey coats wrinkled with passing time and wear

Eyes full of wisdom, compassion and……despair

Their Africa shaped ears thrown out wide

Versatile trunk tenderly cherishing a dusty calf shadowing her side

Sweet smelling elephant dung….steamed warm in the afternoon heat

Iconic giants of Africa…..light as dancers on their large padded feet

Amber eyes reflecting the warmth of the late evening glow

Magnificence on these giants….our maker did bestow

Mystical ivory steeped in greed and fears

A fusion of genes passed down over thousands of years

Large wrinkled rumps roll from side to side

An impenetrable wall of tusk and muscle…..they are Africa’s pride

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Whispers from the elephant world in their darkest hours of need

Time is of the essence….consumers of ivory take heed

A world without wild elephants…..my mind veers away

Let us celebrate these majestic animals

on World Elephant Day

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Celebrating the spectacular Indian and Asian elephants today

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Thank you Rory Young and Chengeta Wildlife for your continued

training and support to the heroes on the front lines in the fight against

poaching.

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.

The Unsung Heroes Of The Bush

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These brave wildlife rangers are targets too

The poachers’ have an almost inexhaustible supply of money. Because rhino horn fetches $65,000 on the black market and a kilo of ivory is worth over $1 800, the smugglers and tradesman have very little problem funding these poachers and poaching operations.

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The burning embers fizz and crackle as the elderly man squats on his haunches, his tired bones creaking their resistance. The flames from the cheerful fire throws deep shadows onto his cheeks which are wrinkled and corroded by time. He stills his thoughts seeking renewal of his restless spirit. A symphony of night life brings him back into the web of existence and he absently throws another long onto the fire, pulling away as a myriad of embers explode showering down in a spectacular display. With a stomach turning weightlessness he allows his thoughts to crawl through the cracks of his mind. Dead elephants and a fallen comrade. He sees the desperate look in the eyes of the young man’s mother on hearing the news of her son’s death. He sees the bloodied and broken face of the young man who had only begun to taste life, and he shudders, his shoulders sinking into his sides. A sadness comes upon him all silent and menacing as it flanks him, and he tries to close out the images of the mutilated elephants as they lie sprawled into the parched earth…mothers, babies and a couple of pregnant cows. He looks stricken, shrunken and immensely old as he stares with weary bloodshot eyes into the forbidding shadows of the dark African bush.

Rangers are exposed to deeply disturbing scenes, with each poached carcass a frustrating and grisly reminder of failure, and they operate in the bush under harsh physical conditions, often with inadequate equipment, pay, and support.

Wildlife rangers endure similar ordeals to soldiers in combat. They routinely face death, injury, or torture from poachers, and the wild animals they protect can kill them too. In the DRC, which has been driven by almost two decades of civil war and political instability, about 150 rangers have been killed in Virunga alone since 2004.

Nightmares set like reels of grisly film in his mind will again sneak up on him under the dark cloak of midnight, claustrophobic and warm. It is a life changing experience for these 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.

With dawn’s slow promise of a golden day, he will once again disappear into the early shadows of the African bush to join his fellow rangers. With the fundamental energy of the human spirit, they will leave behind a night full of restless ghosts, hovering moths and a galaxy of mosquitoes to concentrate on the day ahead. The nightmares will once again wait for the sun to say good night before pouncing on his restless mind once again.

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WHAT CAN WE ALL DO TO HELP IN THIS FIGHT AGAINST POACHING (PLEASE WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO CLIP…CHENGETA WILDLIFE)

I often think back to the day when I was told that there was absolutely nothing that I as an individual could do to help in this continual fight against the evils of poaching. All to often we close our minds to the blood red streaks that mar our African landscape. While the world watches, the images of butchered animals, bodies bloated and legs suspended up in the air leap out of the computer or television, eyes staring unseeingly: pleading for somebody to take notice. This is not a violent storm that has bullied its way into the African bush. This is a dark menacing chaos of greed, corruption and destruction. These ruthless killers are turning the African bush into a wild sweltering inferno, flames devouring any animal with tusks or horns.

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Rangers need all the help they can get in the fight against poachers.

Rory Young

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Rory Young is a passionate and committed activist who has been fighting the evils of poaching all his life.  He is a dedicated man who has decided to make it his life’s mission to ensure that the rangers fighting in this war against poaching have the best possible training. Rory has been in the field for well over 20 years now and has honed his skills in the bush as a pro-safari guide and a top class tracking consultant.

Rory Says

  ‘These animals are not dying of natural causes. We are not saving them from nature. They would not be on the verge of extinction it it wasn’t for us’

 ‘They are being killed for greed. This is a human offense, a human crime against these creatures and humans must make amends.’

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 ‘I found that the very people who had knocked back the poaching in the 90’s are now old, or have been replaced with younger, less experienced people who had grown up after the liberation wars and counter insurgency operations of my generation and who had had no training or experience in the very skills needed to win. Very few could track properly and almost none knew how to follow-up poacher spoor as an effective team. Furthermore, the will to win was gone and there was no money because there was also no publicity about what was happening.’

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Young said that by the end of 2014 he will have trained more than 150 team members on anti-poaching procedures. “Both the African elephant and the more endangered Forest elephant can both be saved and their numbers increased again, but only if we move immediately and decisively,” he said.

‘This war against poachers can be won. To win it it needs both a will to succeed and funding. We are losing elephants every single day. With your financial support we can put a stop to this senseless loss.’

 

Across Africa the scourge that is poaching is removing natural resources at an unprecedented rate. The southern African nation of Malawi is no exception to the hugely negative impacts of poaching on biodiversity and the natural ecosystem processes that sustain both people and wildlife.

Training rangers in Malawi

CHINA STOP THE DEMAND

AND

 CLOSE THE CARVING FACTORIES

“The ivory trade must be disrupted at all levels of criminality, the entire prosecution chain needs to be systemically restructured, corruption rooted out and all stakeholders, including communities exploited by the criminal syndicates and those on the front lines of enforcement, given unequivocal support.”

SAY NO TO IVORY

CHENGETA WILDLIFE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nosey.. The Zimbabwean Elephant

Brushstrokes of summer streak across the sky as I walk barefoot on the beach, my toes enjoying the soft sand. The scudding clouds pit against the wind in a never ending battle and the rhythmic pounding of the waves is hypnotic and relaxing. I can leave the noisy Durban traffic behind. I love the constant movement of the ocean and the taste of salt that lingers in my mouth. I feel as carefree as one of the sea gulls, floating in the empty air pockets high above the world and Gary and I quicken our pace, laughing as we try not to disturb the sand where the ocean kisses the shore leaving the beach clean until the next wave. Leaving the beach, we wander up towards a large car park as I have spotted a blue and white marquee and presume it is for a wedding.  As we draw nearer we realize it is a ‘big top’ and we decide to investigate further.

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I feel my stomach churning. A thin green canvas pergola keeps the scorching noon sun off the hunched back of the swaying elephant. Her coat of wrinkles hangs off her shoulders and her muscular and versatile trunk swings back and forth: a pendulum of time passing slowly. A blue plastic bucket is half filled with water and standing within reach of her sad trunk. The tarmac is hot beneath her spongy feet and she lifts a leg, stretching it backwards easing the pain that shoots up to her hip. Her noble head hangs and her large Africa shaped ears fan the stifling heat and there is a look of desolation about her: hope dying slowly. Hour after hour is spent chained to a stake as she waits for the next performance in this man made jungle of hooting traffic and redolent fumes. I am heart broken and find it difficult to tear my eyes away. The thin green pergola, a poor substitute for shade when I think of the African bush and its towering trees. My mind screams at me. Where had this elephant come from? I think of her family and that thought transports me back into the valley where we would see the same small herd of elephants fishing trip after fishing trip.

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Bathing the bush in a soft coppery light, the shadows, warm and mellowed by the afternoon sun lengthen as the silence shredding cicadas fill the air. Thick canopies adorn the sun scorched trees and the small herd of elephants rumble gently as they feed on the soft fibrous stems and bark of a mighty baobab tree. The matriarch naps gently, her large versatile trunk thrown casually over her creamy tusk and her rather tattered ears circulating the warm breeze. Her long tail swishes, swatting away squadrons of whining flies. Small calves caked with mud mock fight, their small trunks locking as they tumble onto the dry earth…over a 1000 lbs of combined weight puffing dust up into the air where it hangs motionless like a gauzy curtain before freckling gently over the bushes.

We sit drifting in the stream of the world, silent witnesses and sucked in by the magic that surrounds these magnificent giants. Earlier in the day, this same small herd had been bathing downstream and we had tied up the boat and spent an hour entranced by their unblemished optimism for life. They had done a fair amount of mileage since the early morning and now once again we were being offered a brief glimpse into their world of compassion and love that they feel for each other.

As the last rays of sun weave their golden threads into twilight, crickets with acoustical wings like gossamer lace welcome the gentle evening breeze. The silent footfalls of the giants merge across the twilight and as they disappear from sight, they steal another gigantic chunk of my pounding heart.

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My heart is still pounding..but for different reasons as I drag my mind back from my reverie. I keep turning to look at the sad and lonely elephant..ashamed of what these humans have done to her. A couple of hours later I am drawn back to the big top and we can hear the discordant tinny circus music long before we catch sight of the twinkling lights. I stand on the perimeter watching people flocking towards the open flap of the big top, my mind searching through the murk for something positive to say about this elephant’s predicament. I could only shake my head and wonder how we as humans can justify an act that turns a majestic animal into a ‘performing monkey’. Elephants do not sit on stools. As a gust of wind flings a handful of stars into the night, I turn away feeling helpless..but I make another silent promise to an elephant. I will never support a circus and I will always fight to ensure that these magnificent giants are kept out of the ‘big top’ and out of zoos. That was fifteen years ago and I am fulfilling my promises to these elephants. (petition)

NOSEY THE ZIMBABWEAN ELEPHANT

NOSEY

This brings me to Nosey the Zimbabwean elephant. My heart aches for Nosey. I have witnessed what her life should have been like. I will continue to put my name on all petitions concerning this animal whose loneliness ebbs and flows. While afternoon shadows stroke the horizon gently, Nosey’s solitary lifestyle in enclosed quarters reeks of neglect. She should be drinking in the beauty of the Zimbabwean bush, reaching her muscular trunk up to the sky and embracing the wide open blue freedom above her. Instead she is found limping and faltering in her gait: noisy humans on her back.

I read he r story and a storm of memory has my mind lost in a trance of golden sunsets , sultry breezes and a small elephant herd ambling along the banks of the fast and formidable Zambezi River. This could be where Nosey’s (petition)family had once enjoyed the solace of un-trampled lands before human induced tragedy had ripped her family apart. I will keep writing and fighting for these animals who deserve our respect. A new dawn must surely show its face..but..until it does, please help Nosey by signing this petition.  Let us ensure that this beautiful creature can retire to an elephant sanctuary where she will form bonds with her own kind.ellie clip art

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.

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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…..

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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

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

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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.

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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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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’.

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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.

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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)

 

My Childish Promise To A Dead Elephant

I came across an image of a dead elephant: a wrinkled gigantic heap of magnificence lying crushed against a Mopani tree.

I could feel my heart thumping as a storm of memory shot me back in time and I was once again a little girl of five or six crouched down in the African dust, the warm coppery sun beating down on my back staring into unseeing eyes forever frozen in time. I could feel tears rolling down my face leaving snail trails through the fine dust that freckled lightly across my cheeks. I recall how I stretched out my hand wishing that the elephant was just drowsy with the summer heat and I gently touched what had been a powerful and versatile trunk, its fine wiry hairs scratching my fingers. This magnificent animal still wore his scythe like tusks, cracked and worn with time. He had been tearing up grass as he ambled through the mid-morning heat and a green gooey mess oozed out of his slack mouth. He had become a problem bull in the farming area where I grew up, and a danger to humans…hence the fact that he was now dead.

The locals were arriving in full force, a noisy teeming humanity pulsating with life. Not like the bull. I remember the gut wrenching helplessness as my echo of harmony was lost and I no longer felt like a child. The first axe fell and the fresh smell of blood grabbed me by my nose. My dad scooped me up and we disappeared through the melee of African people. I started to weep, huge sobs wracking my skinny little ribcage as I watched over his shoulder at the mass of people teeming like a colony of ants over the carcass. I did not understand how they could do that…but I had never known hunger.

That moment in time is set in my memory like a snap shot. I cannot even remember why my dad and I were there. He had not shot the elephant and it was not on our farm. I do remember that the corners of my mouth had sagged and I made a childish promise to that dead elephant: I would always fight in their corner, and my promises were always carried out..even back then. I was a feisty kid.

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50 years on and I can still feel that heavy silence of loss  that large jumbo and his unseeing eyes had engendered in me.

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I have experienced the bush with no wildlife…and sometimes there is no peace in silence.

We went camping in Mozambique during the early to mid nineties. The long and harrowing civil war had finished and in it’s wake a country crippled and cloaked in human and animal tragedy…crypt-quiet, motionless and eerie. Not an animal or a bird to be seen. This was Africa at it’s most cloying, sticky and tragic. The wildlife did recover but that trip made a lasting impression on me…an impression that is not easy to erase from the mind, and especially when you read about the rampant poaching taking place in Mozambique, even as I write.

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I am now living in the UK and still crazy about animals and especially elephants. About eight months ago, I was scanning the internet and came across a blog called ‘Anomie’s Child’. It took me straight back into the vast wilderness of sun kissed grass and sturdy trees. I pounced on Gary as he walked through the front door that evening, my voice choking with excitement as I bounced around him like an annoying and excited puppy.

‘Who ever is writing these blogs, Gary, is incredible. He is so knowledgeable and passionate about everything that we love about home. I love the way he is so truthful about how he feels and does not apologise for his beliefs..but he is open to discussion.’

‘Anomie’s Child’ for me was like a soul open wide to the breeze and I read and re-read many different stories, embracing each of my favourites. There were times when I could feel the frustration gripping the words and sadness at other times. Even from thousands of miles away, I could feel the throb of Africa beneath my feet and the earthy richness of fresh elephant dung would fill my nostrils. It was this blog that made me pick up a pen.

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The cyanide poisoning of our Zimbabwean elephants was for me, a turning point. I could not ignore what was taking place in my beloved country.  Having been told there was nothing I could do about the poaching, I decided that I was not going to be a person who pretended that this atrocious attack on our wildlife was not happening. I decided that I would write a poem a week to raise awareness on the destruction for as long as it takes…a huge undertaking for me as I had never written poetry in my life…apart from a few rhymes for ‘kitchen teas’ and ‘baby showers’ back home.

Having made this decision, I was always scanning the internet for news about elephants. During one of these searches, I came across ‘Chengeta Wildlife’. The name jumped out at me, as being a Zimbabwean, chengeta (look after) is still very much a part of our every day vocabulary, and even our two little grandies use ‘chengeta’ with their very english accents which always brings a smile to my face. It was here that I also came across a woman called Lisa Groenweg, who had been repelled by the rampant slaughtering of elephants with cyanide. She had asked Rory Young (a fellow Quora member) what she could do to help.

Rory Young, I thought to myself as I was reading about Lisa Groenweg. Why the hell do I know that name?

‘Anomie’s Child.’ He is the guy who writes the blog.

Lisa Groenweg had decided that she could not look the other way 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.

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!

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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.  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.

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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I think back to my childhood encounter with the dead elephant and smile at my promise which is now taking form. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to deal with the mutilated bodies of these magnificent animals…and all to feed the unquenchable demand for ivory trinkets and jewelry.  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.

Rory Young is the strength that the ‘future of elephants’ needs…

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But 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 made a commitment to a dead elephant 50 years ago…the memory of that day is still strong in my mind. For me, they are Beautiful Elephants. (My Poem)  People, please make a commitment to our wildlife and let us ensure that we help to protect our heritage.

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The Land Of The Elephants

I was reading somewhere that one should align oneself with the wisdom of nature! So getting as close to nature as I can …I lie flat on my back on the spongy green lawn staring up at the pale blue sky decorated with thousands of wispy vapour trails. A bumble bee whirs slowly past droning close to my ear. I close my eyes ignoring the bumble bee imagining instead the indigo hues deepening through the African bush as daylight wanes. My mind marches along to Africa’s timeless rhythms wondering what has gone wrong in this intricate web that we call life. Squinting up at the diaphanous vapour trails, I speculate on the fact that once man has ruined this planet, that maybe with all this modern technology and transport, thinks we have another planet to go to?

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I stop my mind from marching and pull my thoughts close. I need to think about something that makes me feel better. I sit bolt upright. No…the goal is not about feeling better. It is about getting better at feeling. It is about compassion and justice. These are two words that many world wide seem to lack in.

Why is it that a continent blessed with riches and natural resources has blood flowing into the rivers? Corruption and greed: my mind feeds on this information, chewing quickly and swallowing. This I already know, and it gives me indigestion.

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How is that the ‘dentine body parts’ from these magnificent and sentient creatures ends up in countries far from where they belong. I feel myself choking with emotion and a stomach churning weightlessness. My dad died in a country far away from where he was born due to political upheaval and a touch of corruption. I remember how I could see beyond the cheerful exterior… sadness had a firm hand on his shoulder, but with a bright smile he would always maintain that he was one of the lucky ones. I always worried about dad’s ashes as I know deep down that they do not belong here in this country. (His ashes are buried in a huge pot and I have planted a tree.) They belong back on Ferndale farm Umtali/Mutare in Zimbabwe where he was born, and although he did not farm the farm, he loved it and all those that lived there with his whole being.

Tusks from these sentient creatures also do not belong on somebody’s table or mantle piece thousands of miles from where they come from. They belong in the land of their birth….and on the land. (I know I am an idealist).

I watch a plane whizzing past and I imagine that there could be contraband in the hold. Do the people who create the demand have any idea of the bloodshed this demand is creating? (infographic for Rory Young and Chengeta Wildlife).

A huge thank you to Joe Chernov, Robin Richards and Leslie Bradshaw for creating the infographic for Rory Young and Chengeta Wildlife.

Ivory carving has a history of 5 000 years according to archaeological studies. These carvers are desperate to keep the art of carving alive, claiming that they have tried to combine wood and ivory, ox and camel bones but nothing can compete with ivory. Yes, the carvers work is intricate but it lacks the life and luminescence that one gets from ivory where it rightly belongs: on an elephant. How can they hope to achieve something beautiful from something that is so symbolic of suffering and death. I do not believe they can.

Coming from Zimbabwe, I do not believe that anything can be more beautiful or real that sitting quietly watching the fire of dawn bursting over the horizon and lighting the way for a herd of elephants. One cannot describe the elation of being in an open air amphitheater where fingers of sunshine caress your cheeks and the sweet smell of buffalo dung fills your nostrils. DEAD IVORY does nothing except symbolize ‘death’. Southern Africa is where the big five roam. This is where elephants amble past with the lightness and grace of dancers. This is a wild paradise with limitless skies and a rugged beauty. This is where survival of the fittest should be the rule of law..but greed and corruption are ruining this natural world where the land pulsates with a subliminal rumble that one feels rather than hears. This natural world is being desecrated and the demand for ivory, rhino horn and other animal parts is out of control.

China, please do not allow the demand for ivory to wipe out an entire species. The only enemy our African bush and her wildlife riches has to fear is man..the biggest and most lethal predator. I continue to lie flat on my back staring up at the sky. Where do we go from here? I roll over onto my stomach and flicking open my folder, I continue to read ‘The Field Manual for Anti Poaching Activities’..written by Rory Young and Yakov Alexseyev I take a deep sigh feeling my heart hammering a little faster. Yes there is hope out there. We just need to get this manual out to every anti-poaching ranger.

This book is an absolute must for those who do anti-poaching work. It is an intriguing read for the lay person who wants to understand how skilled professionals deal with dangerous criminals in the bush.

 

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We also need Governments to take responsibility before it is too late. I am sharing a link to this must see interview with Rory Young from Chengeta Wildlife. Rory is on the ground and gives a clear overview of the current catastrophic levels of poaching. A passionate plea for action rather than words. Rory, thank you.

China, please put a stop to the demand for ivory. Do not let this become The last Call of The Elephant’. (My poem)

War Against The Elephants

Elephants are fighting a battle of ‘survival’. A battle against humans and their sophisticated weapons is a fight that these elephants cannot win on their own. Humans are waging a war against these enigmatic animals because the elephants own something that humans want. WHY, I ask again. Holding my breath, ‘would you want to own something that is so symbolic of suffering and death?’

image of satoa from the Sunday Telegraph

Again, as I have mentioned before I feel like I am writing pages of inadequate words as I think sadly about the death of one of the last remaining tuskers, Satao. His rhythm of life has been rudely and savagely broken and his tusks butchered from his face. As the world watches, this devils highway is fast becoming a hauntingly lonely road of grey ghosts. Why, my mind screams do we think that we human beings have the right to wreck such havoc on this planet we call earth. Justice comes from the same place as being human: compassion. What will become of this magnificent elephant bull’s tusks? Where are they going to end up? His personal treasures will be smuggled out of Kenya and into a carving factory in China some 9 2014 km away. Here they will be carved and fashioned into trinkets: for humans.

What is it about an elephant’s tusks that make humans want to own a piece of them?  Is it that consumers of ivory want to hold onto a deep feeling of belonging or are they just trying to capture a piece of the magic that surrounds the elephant? I do not know why. We all know what poachers and traffickers make out of these filthy deals, but what makes the demand so unquenchable? What is it that makes this elongated cone like shapes of dentine so highly sought after?

Ivory, when it is dead has an uneasy grandeur about it. Nothing can come close to the beauty of ivory on an elephant. It has a warmth and lustre that pulses with life and personality. Ivory belongs to elephants and has no use to man. For whatever different reasons humans want to own a piece of ivory for we all know that it comes at a great cost to the unfortunate elephants that supply the demand. Hundreds and thousands of these sentient creatures come under fire every year. Their tusks, ruthlessly butchered from their faces to feed the bottomless pit that the ivory demand has become. Elephants and other wildlife are irreplaceable riches and have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

Every muscle in my body tightens, and my mind screams at me. THIS IS WRONG and it is UNACCEPTABLE. As human beings, can they not see that what they are doing is morally wrong? These magnificent and sentient creatures are more compassionate than the human predators that are wrecking such destruction and havoc. In 2012, some 35 000 elephants were cruelly slaughtered to feed the demand for ivory.  With China and Thailand’s increasing affluence, as well as an expanding middle class elsewhere in Asia, the demand for ivory and rhino horn is out of control. When the two-legged being gets greedy, the animals will disappear: sad but true.

We all need to turn east and face the dawn. Our beloved African bush and walking treasures are under attack. We, as compassionate and caring people can play a part in the fight against poaching, no matter how small. My heart and passion lies firmly with these magnificent animals no matter in which country they leave their footprints on the sand.  I am also patriotic about my home country Zimbabwe and have been privileged enough to have spent many sun kissed days on Kariba and in the Zambezi valley where in both destinations, we have been fortunate enough to witness these giants on many occasion.  I do all that I can do to raise awareness of the rampant poaching sweeping through the continent. I also raise awareness for Chengeta Wildlife whose mission is to empower local law enforcement in Africa in the fight against the poaching of Elephants.

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One last thought, ‘as the warm rays of sun pay their last respects to what has been a glorious day in this sun burnt land, the heavy silence of loss ushers twilight into darkness. The African bush could be facing a future minus the very essence that adds to its magic.’

ODE TO SATAO…(my poem)