Last week I woke to the news that 117 fresh and old elephant carcasses had been found in Kenya, just the latest in the seemingly unending massacre of these magnificent and loving animals. And then later I was horrified to read an article which said that “blood ivory”, which it explained is ivory taken from still living elephants, is considered the most valuable of all in China. To spell it out, that means ivory hacked out of a living, cognisant elephant, quite possibly while its children are watching. It beggars belief.
This, as I’m sure it does for many of you, had me yet again in tears of frustration, incomprehension and rage. I’ve been lucky these past few years to have spent a fair bit of time observing elephants in the wild, visiting the magnificent DSWT Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi and reading as much as I can about these incredible animals. In this blog you can see some of the photos from encounters I've been privileged enough to enjoy.
There is very little that brings me more pleasure than watching young ‘innocent’ elephants at play, so like our own toddlers in their fearless and boisterous approach to life. And there is little that instills more respect than seeing the family units working together, observing the clear intelligence and love these beautiful creatures display. The idea that fellow human beings can murder these loving creatures for status trinkets just simply makes my blood boil.
Estimates vary about by when, but there is certainty that unless things change, there will soon be no wild elephants left in East Africa. Within years if not decades. Your children may never have the chance to see them. Their children will die because their parents were slaughtered often in front of their eyes. Sorry to be so brutal but this is the truth and we need to wake up to it.
So I have decided it is about time I stepped up and in my own little way tried to do something, rather than simply dwelling on my frustrations. There are many wonderful charities out there doing what they can and indeed I support some of those financially. But there’s nothing quite like taking some action, if only in a small way, yourself.
These past few years I’ve been lucky enough to befriend some amazing wildlife photographers, artists, conservationists and journalists and it is them I will be taking my inspiration from, them I will be turning to for help. My aims are awareness raising and of course fundraising.
So watch this space for an idea I’ve been mulling on for at least a year and am now going to make happen. And indeed, watch your inbox, because I might just be in touch asking for your help - if of course if you haven’t already reached out to me as a result of this blog....
"Elephants are living treasures. Nature's gardeners. Nature's great teachers. Tragically some people don't give a damn. They prefer the dead treasure to the living one. The ivory. We must challenge this so-called 'trade' with all our might and shame on those who would condone it."
Virginia McKenna OBE
Founder & Trustee Born Free Foundation