Thursday, 12 July 2012

Sacred Elephant

It's World Elephant Day today! It's an opportunity to express your concern, share your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants alike.

Many years ago, when I lived in Malawi, I visited nearby Zimbabwe. One evening, when camping in the Victoria Falls campsite, I literally bumped into an elephant. It was an unforgettable experience! 

Sacred Elephant by Heathcote Williams is a beautiful celebration of elephants. It's packed with photos (accompanied by a long poem) and stories of elephants, amazing facts about their biology and intelligence and stories of their relationships with each other and with humans. The stories come from different time periods and different sources (including zoo keepers and hunters) so give a fascinating insight into our changing attitudes to this marvelous animal.

 I was given this copy by a friend a year or so ago and it's an old book now (1989), likely out of print (though you can access an audio version here). If you do find a copy, read it (or listen to it) and remind yourself of what wonderful creatures we share the planet with. How would you feel if you knew your grandchildren would never have the chance to see a living elephant?

Elephants were heavily poached for ivory in the 1970s and 1980s (the time period just before the publication of this book) and although their numbers stabilised for a while after that, they are threatened again, not only as poaching increases again, but also in conflicts with human populations for space. There's a good article about this here, on the Save the Elephants' website and another, more pessimistic article on CNN.

I reviewed this book as part of Brighton Blogger's 2012 Reading Challenge

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

7 comments:

Ms Sparrow said...

Elephants are such intelligent and loving animals. The way they are mistreated by humans is appalling and my heart goes out to them. The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
provides free-roaming homes for as many as they can. The story of old Shirley and young Jenny is especially heartwarming. I will look for the book you recommend!

eileeninmd said...

Wow, how cool to see an elephant in the wild. It is sad to see elephants are being poached. Thanks for the links and the post. It is important message, the elphants do need the help of people who care. Victoria Falls and a safari is on our bucket list of places to see.

Naquillity said...

amazing creatures. the website you linked to seems a great start in helping the elephants. and your book sounds interesting.

congrats on your poems being published (post below). that workshop sounds like it was a good one. so glad you were able to see a nuthatch. hope all is well. have a great night~

Rabbits' Guy said...

Amazing fellows! I have only seen one in the Zoo. (But then I stay pretty close to home!)

Karen M said...

How did you bump into an elephant? It couldn't possibly have sneaked up on you (picturing an elephant in tennis shoes, up on tiptoe)....

Crafty Green Poet said...

Karen - it was dark! We had a torch and were looking for snakes and then all of a sudden, whoops! an elephant!

Alison Wiley said...

Thanks for raising our awareness about elephants. I hadn't realized you had once lived in Africa. I'm glad you lived to tell the tale of bumping into an elephant.