Few things are more important to a herd of elephants than protecting their young. Time and time again, you watch as the mothers usher their offspring away from perceived dangers, or make sure that they are well fed and have access to water. The mothers are not afraid to let their calves know when they are misbehaving and do so with a slap of a trunk or the nudge of a hip, often accompanied by a trumpeted admonition.
To be around a herd of elephants is an emotional experience. You see them, you hear them, and you can instantly relate to them. They touch something inside you. These animals display so many traits anthropomorphically similar to our own, from care to play and loving bonding, that is so easy to associate between a mother and child. You unconsciously smile when you see them display happiness and you feel uneasy when you sense they are fearful.
For all their bulk, power and mostly latent potential, these are gentle and vulnerable animals who share the same emotions akin to us as a perceived higher species.
The tragic irony is that a higher species, we choose to inflict the most horrific deeds on these animals, brutally hunting them as trophies or for their ivory.
When left alone without hunting or poaching, elephants become docile towards us to the point of being curious and engaging in a completely non-threatening manner.
I will never forget hearing how a huge bull elephant known as Big Vic in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park would regularly come into the camp and walk up to his favorite person there. He would stand next to her while she read her book and then fall asleep, still standing, snoring at her side. Such was his trust. Sadly, this bull was shot as a trophy by hunters.
Is it not elephants who are the superior ones for nurturing qualities of compassion, care and protection, as opposed to us, who have abused those self-same qualities in the pursuit of our own material enrichment?
Elephants are as much guardians in the physical sense as they are guardians of the code of close-knit family and community to which we, as humans, should aspire.
Exhibition: 173cm x 119.4cm (68” x 47”)
Large: 146 cm x 101 cm (57.5″ x 40″)
Classic: 118cm x 81.5cm (46.5” x 32”)