Saturday, 2 November 2013

This is no Teddy Bear Picnic...

Forest elephant at Mudumalai National Park
What comes to mind when you hear the word elephant? In most case, the image that is conjured is of a lumbering gentle grey animal that saunters across the vast expanse of the golden grasslands of the African Savannah.

But, if you go out to the woods today you’re sure for a big surprise…

How many of you are familiar with the Forest Elephant? This particular distinct species inhabits the dense west and central African Rainforest. They are smaller than the Savannah elephant and have only recently been recognised as a distinct species. The forest elephant is the species I have chosen to introduce into William’s story and the Beautiful Creatures series.

Forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) in the Mbeli River,
Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Congo.
Elephants are a species that have a highly complex social system which have endured trauma at the hands of humans through mass culls, imprisonment and poaching. Humans can often overlook the ability of other species to experience the deep bonds that we feel with our own kin. However, Daphne Sheldrick, who was recently interviewed by Chelsea Clinton is one that knows all too well the trauma that young elephants suffer from witnessing unimaginable atrocities that we would not question would scar our own children if they were to be an eyewitness such acts. Dame Sheldrick has worked with orphaned elephant over the year in the efforts to rebuild their ability to trust after shockingly disturbing events that has orphaned them. However, these gentle giants do have their list of famous supporters which are working toward conservation efforts to ensure that this species is not wiped out by human shortsightedness.

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