A Cry Making the Blood Run Cold
Over 150 years ago, millions of elephants roamed most of the African continent, as well as in Asia from China in the east to Iraq in the west. But due to hunting, poaching and habitat loss, both Asian and African elephants are now only found in highly fragmented habitats. In Southeast Asia, many elephants are used as domestic and working animals. But as for the wild, free-ranging giants, they are endangered. There are two different groups of elephants that live in Africa; the forest elephant (critically endangered) and the savannah elephant (endangered).After excessive trophy hunting in colonised Africa at the beginning of the 20th century, only a few populations of the savannah elephant were able to recover. Due to ongoing poaching, populations continue to decline drastically. About 20,000 elephants are killed in Africa every year.
By Stefanie Rach
“I feel the call in the tips of my toes. I feel this pull like vibrating waves that make my whole body shiver. It is the call of the green lands, the call of the old route.
When I was a little calf, our matriarch often told of a great water rushing loudly through gorges. It then cascades down over rocks into a land where trees dip their branches into the ripples of the water and so much grass grows that there is enough for elephants, hippos and antelopes.
When she was a little calf her herd visited this place every rainy season. She knew the way exactly and described every detail to us. I was so impressed by her stories that now, as a matriarch myself, I hear the call of this place, even though I have never visited it.
Even before I was born, the path became too dangerous. Humans settled where once lush nature provided a home for all animals. But even worse, they kill all creatures, even each other. The old routes smell of blood and decay. They do not kill to feed, as lions or leopards do. They kill at random and then tear out the teeth of the elephant carcasses.
So we elephants stay where it is safe and only tell each other about the old places visited by our ancestors and the paths that lead there – in the hope that one day a matriarch will be able to lead her herd there again.”
“I feel the call in the tips of my toes. I feel this pull like vibrating waves that make my whole body shiver. It is the call of the savannah, the call of this pristine, magnificently wild nature.
I was born in the bush and grew up in the bush. I know how the blades of grass sway in the wind before a storm. I know which trees the leopards prefer to spend the hot hours of the day in their shady branches. And I know what the imprint of the elephant matriarch looks like in the red soil of Africa when she is in a haste and drives her family to lead them determinedly to places that offer not only food but also safety.
As usual, I follow her and the herd. For over and over again there have been bloody incidents with poachers who shoot members of elephant herds in order to take their tusks. The traumatised family members who witnessed the brutality are left behind. But as long as I am a ranger, I will protect the elephant martriarch and her family!”
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