Should we save or Protect those that saved themselves? War Elephants.

I woke this morning to a gray sky dripping wet, the rain was not a downpour but steady rain that lasted for an hour or so. This is what the weather report on the TV told us was in store due to the Pineapple Express being in full force. Hawaii received an unusual storm this past week, it snowed in places that have not received snow in written history. California is receiving a good amount this season and it is much needed and welcomed by most of us. I am not about to complain about our weather as it is much better than a good portion of the country. We have some heavy rain that causes mudslides and road closures, a few highways are closed due to them. The morning and evening commute was brutal and will be for the next few days, I don’t work any longer so I’m indifferent to driving on the wet roads. I was unable to assume my normal morning position with Skunkpuppy on the riverside deck, I thought about wearing a rain jacket and sitting out there but that thought had a hang time of less than one second. I finished my reading instead, news, blogs, email, and I sometimes perform further research on interesting subjects. Today I started to watch TV, daytime National Geographic, documentaries on African animals. I am interested in the relationship between Crocodiles and Hippopotamus, I got caught up in a few about Elephants.

elephant walking
The War Elephants

About a year ago I wrote a blog on a local crow mob that frequents the Pecan Grove next to the house, the trees belong to my neighbor. At that time there were approximately 20 of the birds doing what crows do and I decided to video them. I had to set up the camera near the top of the Levee as the windbreak on the deck was covered with condensation. Shotguns were being fired as it was duck season, it’s common here on the river but I don’t see large flocks of ducks flying over. The Crows disappeared almost immediately after I set up my camera, the strange thing is they had been in that tree every morning for the preceding week. I could not get that out of my thoughts, why did they leave after they saw me set up my camera? I began to wonder if it had something to do with the shotgunners, not the sound, but the hunters. I hear a lot of shots and few birds, at one time I hunted ducks and during times of no action it gets boring, I suspect some of the Crows were shot at, they are smart animals. They may have thought my camera was a gun.


That brings me back to the National Geographic documentary on the Elephants in Mozambique. During the civil war 1977-1992, most of the Elephants were killed, they are now known as the “War Elephants”, that is the ones that survived. Most of the adults were slaughtered, Ivory was the main driver, the animals were slaughtered their tusks paid for war supplies. The young Elephants survived without the leadership of their parents, they have long term memory’s and are intelligent animals. They did not forget the war, after 36 years those who were babies during the conflict are now full grown and are the matriarchs of the herds.

Tourism is important to Mozambique, the country is relying upon it to help bring it back to fiscal solvency, and a big part of it is the visitors want to see the Elephants. The problem is the animals do not want to see them, they have had enough of humans and they are still after all of these years traumatized by the war. These Elephants are unusually aggressive, under normal situations an attack by them is rare, but not here the memory of the war is still fresh in their minds.

A brother and sister team of researchers is attempting to come up with a solution to their aggressiveness, their intentions are noble. The goal is for them to acclimate the large animals to vehicles in an attempt to create a safer environment for the tourist. The lady researcher is a Wildlife Biologist, and her brother a professional photographer, all of their efforts are videoed. They are both dedicated, passionate and professional, it’s clear they are devoted to the animals which is good, and the work they do is commendable.

The Elephants clearly do not want them there, the minute they are within sight of the herd it is obvious the animals are agitated and begin to get aggressive. Large females are responsible for the well being of the Clan, they lead to feeding areas, water spots, and at night a safe place for them to rest. They are big weighing 2,000-3000 pounds (Females) and capable of inflicting a lot of damage in a short amount of time to a vehicle. The Bulls are huge weighing twice of a female and much more aggressive they can make short work of any size truck or car. The researchers and the tour guides risk their lives every day in their attempts to make the interaction between humans and Elephants safe.

Large, intelligent, and Vengeful. 

The work they perform is at least noble, and at worst invasive, I wonder if it is somewhere in between the two. My question is why are they messing with creatures that clearly want to be left alone? What would it hurt (the countries economy would suffer) if the animals were just left alone for another 20 years? They have suffered enough, the problem is obviously us and not them.

I may have done the exact same thing with the Crows, but the impact of me leaving them be is nothing compared to the situation in Mozambique. Some humans can’t help themselves when it comes to believing their passion to “fix” things overrules all else. Recently there has been another situation that can be compared to my Crow incident, and the Elephant disaster.

North Sentinel Island located in the Bay of Bengal is part of the Indian Nation, occupied by the Sentinelese people for the past 60,000 years they are hostile to anyone who attempts contact with them. The population is estimated to be between 15-500 individuals, that number exposes the obvious that no one knows how many people live there. They like the Elephants endured hardship and tyranny from humans wishing to “help” them, one theory is the first ship that arrived on the island brought disease with it that the people had no immunity to. From that time on all strangers have been repelled if they were lucky, and lack of luck brought death. Last year, 2018, a young Evangelical Missionary made it his life’s ambition to “reform” the inhabitants and bring Christianity to them. To make a long story short, he was killed and his body has not been recovered anyone coming within 1/2 mile of the landmass is attacked. A three-mile zone around the island has been established by the Indian Government and has made it illegal for anyone to approach closer.

North Sentenil Island, 700 miles from the mainland India.

Why is it we humans cannot accept the desires of animals and other humans when all they want is for us to stay away from them? We have absolutely no reason to bother the people on North Sentinel Island, do we insist on interfering because we are told not to? Are our beliefs so embedded in stone that they are the absolute truth and everyone should be forced to live within the boundary of our beliefs? We’re the same with wildlife, do we really believe they need our help to survive? What is it about being human that we interfere in every aspect of life? Normally we create the situations that we task ourselves to fix, from Wolves in Yellowstone to helping the Monarch Butterflies, if we had been paying attention all along we would not have these crisis created by us.

I don’t have an answer except to say we should give more thought to what we are doing with these and other situations throughout the world that are capable of “fixing” themselves.

Thank you for taking the time to read and share my blog, this is what happens when I watch daytime television, it’s supposed to rain for a week, I will avoid television and continue to read the blogs and newsprint. If human “butt-in-ski” bothers you as it does me leave a comment, or if you disagree me I’d like to hear it. Thanks again.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self-Reliance.

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