There are few things 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 or have access to water. The mothers are also not afraid to let their calves know when they are misbehaving and do so with a slap of a trunk or a 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 ours, from care to play and loving bonding that is so easy to associate between a mother and child.
You unconsciously smile when you see their actions denote happiness and you feel uneasy when you pick up when they are fearful.
For all their bulk and 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 as a higher species we choose to inflict the most horrific actions against these animals, brutally poaching them or hanging their tusks on walls as trophies.
When left alone, without hunting or poaching, elephants become docile towards us, to the point of being curious and even engaging in a completely non-threatening way.
I never forget hearing how a huge bull elephant known as Big Vic in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools national park would regularly walk into camp and walk up to his favorite person in that camp. 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 by trophy hunters.
Is it not elephants that are the higher ones, for culturing qualities of compassion, care and protection as opposed to ourselves who have abused these selfsame 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 behavior that we as humans should aspire to.
Exhibition: 173cm x 119.4cm (68” x 47”)
Classic: 118cm x 81.5cm (46.5” x 32”)
© Chris Fallows 2018