Res­cue. Re­ha­bil­i­tate. Re­lease

Karen Dav­ila’s up-close en­counter with ma­jes­tic crea­tures for World Ele­phant Day

Philippine Tatler Traveller - - Contents - Karen Dav­ila

Last sum­mer, be­fore go­ing to sa­fari, I took my kids to The Ele­phant Camp in Vic­to­ria Falls, a sanc­tu­ary that now takes care of 19 ele­phants that have been wounded, or­phaned or are very old. What makes this ex­pe­ri­ence valu­able is the up-close en­counter with these mag­nif­i­cent crea­tures and the op­por­tu­nity to un­der­stand their needs and be­hav­iour while be­ing on foot along­side them.

The guides first in­tro­duced us to their ini­tial herd of four, in­clud­ing the fa­mous “Miz El­lie” and “Jumbo”—the largest of them all and more than 30 years old. They were first cap­tured dur­ing culling op­er­a­tions and then sold to a farmer, and have been now res­cued to a sanc­tu­ary that is able to care for them. I was very im­pressed with the train­ing and han­dling of the ele­phants as they are mov­ing clos­est to their nat­u­ral habi­tats, still roam­ing free, like be­ing in the wild.

Af­ter the ele­phants are res­cued, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion could take years. Be­ing up close, it’s easy to love them. Ma­jes­tic as they are, there is such a gen­tle­ness in their eyes and a seem­ing smile on their lips, that is even more pro­nounced when they’re rais­ing their tusks and be­ing fed. They’re

known to have such em­pa­thy with each other that when one dies, they pay their re­spects and stay with the dead for some time, softly pounc­ing their tusks on the ca­daver.

While the prac­tice of culling or pop­u­la­tion con­trol is no longer car­ried out in Zim­babwe, adult ele­phants face a new threat—be­ing shot and killed for their pre­cious ivory tusks, not just leav­ing be­hind ju­ve­nile or­phans who w will not sur­vive out in the wild on their o own but se­ri­ously af­fect­ing the world e ele­phant pop­u­la­tion.

To­day, there are only around 400,000 A African ele­phants and less than 40,000 A Asian ele­phants left in the world. African e ele­phants are killed for their ivory tusks, w while Asian ele­phants risk los­ing their h habi­tat from for­est burn­ing and are m mostly cap­tured for labour, cir­cus acts, e ele­phant ride treks. It’s said that if we d don’t act fast, ele­phants could be ex­tinct i in the next 10 years.

The doc­u­men­tary Love And Ba­nanas c cap­tures the heart wrench­ing or­deal that cap­tured ele­phants go through to be trained—ei­ther for labour or en­ter­tain­ment—they are put through what is called a “crush box,” beaten un­til their spirit has died to the point where the baby ele­phant no longer recog­nises its mother.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

We must... TO­DAY.... STOP buy­ing prod­ucts with ele­phant ivory. STOP pa­tro­n­is­ing shows and cir­cuses that use ele­phants for en­ter­tain­ment. STOP rid­ing on ele­phants on tourist treks. STOP buy­ing paint­ings done by trained ele­phants.

We can, how­ever, con­trib­ute and sup­port sanc­tu­ar­ies whose life com­mit­ment is to care for these wild an­i­mals and be part of craft­ing a tourism com­mu­nity that is sus­tain­able for gen­er­a­tions to come.

While Au­gust 12 has been ded­i­cated to the preser­va­tion and pro­tec­tion of the world’s ele­phants an­nu­ally, ev­ery­day should be World Ele­phant Day for the sur­vival of these heav­enly crea­tures.

OP­PO­SITE At the Ele­phant Camp, Vic­to­ria Falls, a haven for res­cued ele­phants THIS PAGE Karen wears Pio­Pio at the Zam­bezi River Cruise where hip­pos and crocodiles abound. It di­vides Zim­babwe and Zam­bia

GEN­TLE GI­ANT CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT With Jumbo, the old­est and largest ele­phant at the camp. He was or­phaned and res­cued from culling dur­ing the late 90’s; our fam­ily photo—my kids love Africa; hav­ing lunch and cham­pagne over the Zam­bezi River, at Look Out Cafe, perched 120 me­tres above the gorge

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.