Ensuring A Future

little ellie with trunk up

I was approached about six weeks ago and asked if I would be prepared to share some descriptive writing passages from my Jennys Jumbo Jargon with a class of 9 to 10 year olds during their English lesson. I was thrilled. I spent roughly two and a half hours with this class full of hungry minds and I was captivated by Rebecca’s teaching methods and how responsive and inter-active the children were.

This coming Wednesday 25th, I am going back to this same class of children to talk to them about my blog, elephants and Chengeta Wildlife. We will then read through a couple of extracts from a few of my blogs and discuss their purpose, how they persuade and the different choices of vocabulary etc. I am beside myself with excitement at sharing my passion of Africa’s untamed splendour where earth drifts into heaven, elephants and of course Chengeta Wildlife…which I am honoured to be a part of.

One only has to look at the shrinking natural world to know that something has gone sadly amiss. This group of children that I will be spending time with are a minute part of the future and as custodians of the planet they need to embrace kindness and respect towards this earth. I have been privileged to grow up in this timeless land and can close my eyes at any given time and smell the sweet breath of the warm wind as it scoops up the flaxen dust before freckling it over my sun browned arms. I can listen carefully and hear the veld gently breathing before the silence shredding cicadas fill the afternoon. The feeling of awe and heart pounding joy of being in the presence of elephants as they rumble past leaving you with a warm musky scent of Africa filling your nostrils is tucked away safely…and brought out for those quiet times. There is a joy and curiosity in the delicate sun rays peeping through the wet canopy of trees and I am hoping for the same results from these kids on Wednesday.

I want them to close their eyes and fall under the spell of these ancient beings…to surrender and to be encompassed by the invisible aura that surrounds these magnificent animals and to share and feel their presence even though we are 7 000 miles away. I want these children to feel the magic that these animals exude as they reach deep into the human soul in a mysterious and mystifying way.


Elephants are the largest land mammals on earth and also the most emotionally human. The breeding herd of females are led by the matriarch, a wise mature female whose herd rely totally on her experience, memory and good leadership to survive. These breeding herds will live and form bonds that are forged over fifty years and once the matriarch dies, the leadership is normally passed onto one of her daughters who has learnt the necessary skills to take on this important position in the herd. Their intricate and complex family values rival our own and these enormous creatures carry their large heavy hearts on their sleeves. The noisy exuberance and trumpeting of baby elephants at a waterhole will mirror the behaviour of a group of young human children in a play ground as both species tussle and push…overjoyed at the freedom of space and sunshine around them. Compare a sulking 10 year old elephant to a sulking 10 year old human…there are such close similarities in the rate of growth and behaviour of the different personalities in both species. The joy of a new family member and the gut wrenching sorrow of death affects both elephants and humans in the same way. There is something special and endearing about elephant calves they exude the very essence of life.

We will discuss the evils of this rampant destruction sweeping through the sun kissed bush of the Continent devouring these magnificent animals and other wildlife with the hunger and ferocious appetite of a Tsunami wave. Plants and all living creatures are functioning parts of the ecosystem and nature should be our teacher….and our guide. I will see the frowns on their little faces as I tell them that 100 elephants are killed every day..frozen in time… forever. This amounts to one every 15 minutes…all slaughtered for ivory bracelets, trinkets, chops sticks and carvings. We will examine the ‘true cost of ivory trinkets’. We will have a brief look at how the poaching is breaking the continuity of information that is passed down through the generations…information that is vital to the well being stability of the herd..

I will explain that I spend so many hours of my spare time writing my blogs and poetry as I cannot sit idle…pretending that this tragedy is not happening. Apathy is the biggest danger facing these sentient giants and other endangered species.

Training rangers in Malawi

The class will have spent time before my arrival having a look at the Chengeta Wildlife website. I will discuss the fact that Rory is a dad of two who is passionate about the wildlife and dedicated to preserving the African biodiversity. Rory has the knowledge, skills and ability to train the ‘anti poaching units’ in the different African countries enabling these rangers to confront the horrific and urgent problems of poaching head on. He is a selfless man driven by an urgency to share his knowledge to protect….not only the wildlife but the rangers themselves whose lives are at risk from these violent and ruthless poaching syndicates whose eyes are steaming in their own malice.  I am on Chengeta Wildlife’s board of directors and a part of our mission is to raise funds to enable Rory Young to share his knowledge and skills throughout Africa. We are an important part of creating a future for these animals…ensuring that your children will not be asking in 20 years time why elephants, lions and rhinos are only found in zoos.

These children will then discuss any other environmental challenges needing attention..deforestation, plight of the polar bears in the Arctic and I will be sharing some of their work with you all in the near future. Wish me luck and please keep sharing our Chengeta Wildlife website. Wednesday will be good practice before our presentation at a Rotarian dinner in March.


Tree Of Life


‘Why do you call this strange looking tree the ‘Tree of Life?’ A pair of deep blue eyes twinkle as she stares up at me.

‘Sit.’ I pat the cushion beside me, ‘And listen carefully.’

‘The enormous baobab tree reaches out embracing the golden warmth of early morning Africa. The leaves shimmer as delicate sun rays bathe the bush in a mellow coppery glow. An echo like a mystery surrounds the magnificent tree…a tree that plays a special role in the African bush. With a trunk and branches that are twisted like powerful tendons of the veld, the mighty baobab boasts of being the most handsome and strongest of all trees. It has a network of roots that worm their way so deep into Mother Earth that they can feel the quiet, and the baobab can still quench it’s thirst when all around…the veld is parched and dying. With flowers that bloom at night and roots that survive deep within the darkness of the earth, the baobab has good reason to boast that it alone can bear the weight of the sky and clouds.’ Her little face is totally focused on mine.

‘Myths or legends would have us believe the arrogance of the baobab with its boasting ways angered the Gods…and they decided to teach it a lesson. With the strength of Hercules, the Gods yanked the startled baobabs, tearing their roots out from deep within the earth and replanted them upside down. Hence the strange look of the baobab today.’

With her mouth forming a perfect ‘0’ and her eyebrows arched liked question marks, ‘Did the Gods really do that to the trees?’

‘No…I don’t think so…but again,’ I raise my hands and wiggle my fingers at her, ‘I was not on earth thousands of years ago and they say it takes 800 years for this magnificent tree to reach maturity.’ I have lowered my voice to a whisper. ‘But, the earth and trees do play music to all those that listen.’ I lean forward.

‘What stories do they tell, Gog?’ A small frown furrows her brow.

shutterstock_197286104 ellies to clip art


‘The baobab has ears and hears many secrets. It smiles down on many miracles of nature that happen daily and also frowns down on some of man’s menacing ways. These trees see and hear everything. They are privy to ‘the miracle of birth’.  (a clip of an elephant birth in the wild.) The baobab’s branches quiver with anticipation as the female elephant bears down, a grimace of pain crossing her expressive face. Agitated and excited, the female herd push and tussle forming an impenetrable wall of tusk and muscle around the new born as she lies vulnerable and gasping her first breath of precious life giving air. Temporal glands flow as the tight knit sisterhood encourage the baby with their powerful and versatile trunks onto her large padded feet. These noble animals are the essence of Africa…they are the soul of Africa, ancient and strong…just like the ‘Tree of Life’ who relaxes with a contented sigh.


These same branches tremble as only hours later….an evil life force pulsates through the trees snapping branches in the sun fried bush. The smoke from a mopani fire teases the matriarch’s senses and a squadron of flies shred the uneasy quiet. She is suddenly full of fear and aware that mortality shadows her and the herd. Heartbeats on the run as the trees explode in the crossfire and the elephants lie torn and dying in the dust. (An old headline…but the attacks on these animals is constant.) The small calf, only two hours old…settles near her mother…unsure and bleeding.’

The baobab is bereft. It has been put on Mother Earth to sustain life. A single tree can hold up to 4 500 litres of water. The soft fibrous flesh and bark are fire resistant and can be used to weave rope and cloth. 80% of the trunk is water…a valuable source of liquid during the long scorching droughts. The leaves and fruit provide high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron and potassium. The tree gives of itself to animals and humans alike.’

Her eyes are huge and full of tears. ‘So the Tree of Life is a good tree?’

‘Yes, and that is why it is called the tree of life. It teaches us all a valuable lesson but sadly there are many who don’t listen. We all want to grow good strong roots like the baobab, and give life…not take it.’


‘Is that why you work with Chengeta Wildlife? She asks and my heart sings because she gets the gist of the story. I nod vigorously.

‘Trees are the lungs of this wonderful planet and without them, we cannot breathe. Being a part of Chengeta Wildlife helps me to breathe.  Chengeta Wildlife reminds me of the Tree of Life as it is a force for good and I am part of a solution to ensure that elephants, rhinos, lions and other endangered wildlife will continue to leave their marks on the sand. The only difference is that the Tree Of Life is a silent witness to the miracles of the bush…and the carnage…but we have a voice.’

She takes my hand, squeezing it tight. ‘ I want to be a part of the solution too.’ She smiles.

girls with their tee shirts

You too…can be a part of the solution…take a look at our website.


Don’t be a silent witness