Ode to the Elephant

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“If elephants didn’t exist, you couldn’t invent one. They belong to a small group of living things so unlikely they challenge credulity and common sense.” – Lyall Watson

As someone who finds nature completely fascinating, you can imagine that living in a land that counts giraffes, lions and zebra as the locals adds up to my currently living out a dream. But of all the incredible creatures that roam this land, elephants are the ones I adore. If there is such a thing as a spirit animal, I feel like an elephant might just be mine!

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A few months ago I got this tattoo, representing many of the elements of elephants that I adore and I associate with.

As a the eldest of a family of three girls, and the strong bonds of my ‘wolfpack’ of female friends, the way elephants form their social structures is a beautiful element. Elephants are known for their complex social structures.  While male elephants are solitary, females live in matriarchal herds with strong bonds between the herds – the elephant form of a sisterhood. Elephants are stunningly intelligent creatures. They demonstrate a wide array of intelligent behaviours: mimicry, humour, tool use, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, memory. They are strong yet gentle unless there is a true threat in their midst. They are patient and show compassion for other creatures, not just their own.

“We admire elephants in part because they demonstrate what we consider the finest human traits: empathy, self-awareness, and social intelligence. But the way we treat them puts on display the very worst of human behavior.” – Graydon Carter

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The fact that these stunning creatures are continuously under threat saddens me desperately. I know I live in a country were poaching is rife. Patrols and campaigns are continuously fought in order to put an end to the poaching of these and other stunning endangered creatures. Yet it has to be understood that the true criminals are the ones who are orchestrating the illegal trade in ivory and fuelling the destruction of some of the most incredible animals to populate our planet.

As David Attenborough once said – we do not want our grandchildren to only be able to see elephants on the pages of storybooks and history books.

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