photos by gerry ellis from the david sheldrick wildlife trust, a nursery and orphanage for elephants in kenya’s tsavo east national park. here, fifty five keepers are charged with being around the clock parents to an elephant. the elephants, however, are the ones who chose their caretakers; it is the keepers who must ingratiate themselves to the elephants and earn their trust.
when elephants first arrive at the orphanage they are often traumatized from having witnessed the slaughter of their mothers and family by poachers. grieving can last several months, and they often lose the will to live. but as dame daphne sheldrick, founder of the orphanage, explains, a caretaker is charged with “persuading an elephant to live when it wants to die.”
approximately 35,000 elephants are killed by humans every year. with an estimated 350,000 elephants left in the whole continent of africa, they will be gone in the wild within ten years.
cbc’s the nature of things did a program on the elephants and their caretakers. you can foster an elephant with the david sheldrick wildlife trust online here. for more on the emotional lives of elephants, as well as the david sheldrick wildlife trust and other human efforts to save them, check out these posts
This made me cry SO hard.
I’m horrified, depressed, saddened and sometimes enraged by the mass slaughter of elephants taking place right now in Africa. At least 100,00 have been killed by poachers since 2010. We could very well drive this beautiful and grand species into extinction. And for what? Trophies for human homes, religious trinkets, knick-knacks to set on a shelf. Profit.
Many people are aware of this ongoing tragedy and are trying to do something about it, but it needs the support of everyone who cares about elephants and animals in general. 10 years can go by quickly, and during this time it’s entirely conceivable that these great animals will no longer be sharing earth as a home with us.
We must all look up from our own little lives and day-to-day concerns. We must look beyond our small-minded politics, the news cycles, tumblr, twitter, facebook, and all the rest, and look at this larger world around us. We share DNA with these creatures, we breath the same air as they do. They grieve for their losses as we do ours. Do we owe them nothing? Is this who we are? I think not.
A philosopher once said that humanity is like a rope strung between worms and gods. Let’s embrace the latter.