Marching for Giants



People of China..please join the march on 4th October. March for Elephants and rhinos

blood ivory story

A smartly dressed middle class Chinese woman leans over the counter, her manicured blood red nails stark against her pale hands as she taps the immaculate glass counter with her fingers. As she nods the light reflects off the thick shiny wave of hair, her open smile showing small even pearly white teeth and a darting pink tongue. Behind the trader endless displays of ivory tusks and numerous creamy trinkets lie entombed in glass cabinets.  A temple to modern Chinese artisans/craftsmen and a tragic resting place for what remains of these magnificent and sentient animals. The warm and heavy evening breathes slowly as the trader, desperate for a sale appeases her impatience by removing innumerable trinkets and tusks from behind sleek glass for her to caress. Behind her, a noisy crowd like a slow destructive tidal wave surge forward in their lust for ivory. Her dark eyes run the length of an enormous tusk. She is only seeing a work of art which has taken a year of endless carving and patience. She is not seeing the elephant whose rhythm of life has been broken…suddenly and without warning.

With a friendly wave and warm smile she inches her way through the crowd, delighted with her purchase. With one last glance and dreaming of a return she steps out into the smog filled air leaving the cloying warmth and mighty stillness of the ‘elephant graveyard’ behind her. Her head is full of admiration for the carver who has turned this elephant into such an extraordinary piece of artwork. It will sit in pride of place on the lounge window sill enshrouded by delicate lace curtains splashed with swirls of red..a perfect backdrop for this blood ivory. With a warmth spreading like sunshine over her soul she has no idea that she is playing a part in the demise of the African elephants. The emptiness of these hateful crimes….unbeknown to her…. match the sad lumbering of an old bull elephant whose noble head was once the proud owner of the perfect scythe like tusk that she has paid an absolute fortune for and now owns.

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The clean smooth remains from this noble creature lie along with the remains of  hundreds of other elephants in the stillness of the African bush under a blistering sun in the Niassa Reserve, Northern Mozambique. If only she could see what is left of this trundling bull. If only she and millions of other Chinese buyers of ivory and rhino horn could read the headline..


If only they could hear the raging screams of elephants under attack as ‘beasts of war swoop down from above in their modern machines’and the pungent smell of death chokes the untamed bush. Africa’s sunrise which should offer a fiery promise to each new day is revealing bloody and violent ‘killing fields’. If only she could hear the distressed screams from small calves as they try to rouse their mother’s from a permanent sleep, their small muscular trunks rusty red and caked with blood and a glazed expression in their eyes. Without the protection of their herd, they too will become sad statistics in this harsh and timeless land. The scavengers are excited by the stench of blood and torn flesh and the survivors of this massacre know instinctively that their time is coming..the flame of life flickers dimly.  Late evening shadows, always obedient to the lowering sun cannot obscure this godless scene unfolding while the world watches..for the most part silent.

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.  These are licensed by one man.. Mr. Zhao Shucong.


An aerial survey of the Quirimbas Park in 2013 found 854 live elephants, and 811 carcasses of elephants slaughtered by poachers. In other words, 48.7 per cent of the elephants spotted in the park were dead. A similar survey in the Niassa Reserve in 2011 found 12,029 live elephants and 2,627 carcasses.

And it is the Niassa and Quirimbas elephant herds that are now being targeted by organised criminal gangs, in what Pereira said “can be described, with no exaggeration, as a national disaster”.


Pemba, in Mozambique, is famous for exporting timber. It is also one of the areas where the smuggling is the most serious. Here there are a large number of Chinese timber merchants. According to an Environmental Investigation Agency report in 2012, there are a large number of Chinese timber companies that have engaged in illegal exploitation and smuggling. One official, from the Mozambique Tourism Bureau, told the Southern Weekend reporter that some timber dealers, by virtue of well-established timber transport routes, transport ivory hidden in large vans to other countries. “Some government officials are also involved, but I can’t comment on that. ” –

Authorities look the other way as raw ivory in the shape of elephant tusks can be found on sale in Maputo.




(Please read and sign this petition)

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 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.


‘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.

rory young twitt

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.’


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Chengeta Wildlife

The Tashinga Initiative


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.


‘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 matter how deeply etched it is in her identity.


‘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 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


‘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

rory young twitt

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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The Lonely Elephant

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

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

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





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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Chengeta Wildlife

The Tashinga Initiative


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


Worth More Alive

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

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




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

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

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


With the strong currents of change seeping across the world I often feel like we are moving towards realms of the unknown. I close my eyes tightly, desperately holding onto these wonderful memories that keep threatening to spool away.  My nine years without seeing African elephants leaves an emptiness deep inside..and this is the point of what I am writing today. When we used to do our numerous trips to the valley encountering these wild and noble 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 heart trembles..will they be there on our return? The thought of the African bush without these ambassadors, sadly could become a reality. We cannot afford to look the other way.  DO NOT TAKE THEIR PRESENCE FOR GRANTED. We need to be fighting to ensure that these magnificent animals remain in the wild.

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

blood ivory story

How can we do more?

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

rory young cause

rory young anti poaching

Chengeta Wildlife

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


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

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


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

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

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

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



Support the men on the ground

Chengeta Wildlife

The Tashinga Initiative


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