National Geographic: Reflections on Elephants


Like the giant sea monsters

that once stalked the

ocean floors,

an unlikely creature still

roams the earth.

So much like the treasured

whales of the seas,

elephants are the precious

last remnants of the

largest land animals in

the world.

Even a gigantic bull

will play away the day,

wallowing in the coolness of a

life that ambles along at

its won pace...

A life as long as our own,

but with so much more time

to be simply

what they are.

But this sense of calm and

meditation can be deceptive.

For a whole year one small

herd races against time

and the drying water holes.

Often the battle over the

precious water enrages them.

Two tiny calves are caught up

in this struggle,

coaxed through their early

years that are fraught

with dangers.

As large as they are,

elephants are sensitive

and gentle creatures.

Haunting discoveries of

burial rituals, language,

and understanding suggest

intelligence and even emotions.

These are the last of

a dying race.

Watching them, we can reflect,

not only on their complex behavior,

but on our own as well.

Join us for a few moments

and Reflections on Elephants.

Africa seldom relaxes.

It always seems to be waiting

for the gentler moments to pass.

Around rainwater pools strewn

across the dry country

of Botswana,

doves and sandgrouse stir up

the air in a frenzy to drink

before the soft edges

of the day burn off.

Elephants are is symbol

of the African wilderness,

woven into its fabric like the

blazing skies and the

endless savannas.

In the midst of a swirling

dance of smaller creatures,

huge males live separate lives

usually ignoring any passing

herds of females and calves.

Around these scattered water

holes they live out their


slowly drawing life from

the earth's open wounds.

With a life-span of 60 years

or longer

elephants pursue the rhythms

of life at a leisurely but

determined pace.

Each movement is a calculated

conservation of energy,

each day a tiny investment

in legend.

In the crisp morning a herd

of females and calves

pads in silently from

the forest.

It is unusual for females like

these to wander into the

bull area,

But they are anxious.

It's been an eventful night.

A calf was born to the matriarch,

the leader of this herd.

From the first day

danger is every where.

The youngster is a female

and she will be guided carefully

through life by her mother

and the other family members.

Because elephant societies

are led by females

and her mother is a matriarch,

It is likely that one day

she too will have to carry on

that tradition of leadership.

But for now she seems

blissfully unaware of the

dangers of life,

more concerned with keeping close

to her mother

and balancing on

her one-day-old legs.

For this young calf,

lions will be a recurring

threat to her life.

Towering giants block the way.

The determined opportunist

is reluctant to go.

When the calf flounders

in the unfamiliar muddy water,

she panics.

But at this age,

help is seldom far away.

They bunch together,

protecting her within a wall

of legs and trunks.

Even the females have tusks

that lions must avoid.

Safe against the bank,

the little female has to contend

with another new challenge

The first bowel movement,

an unbalancing and

alarming experience

With the lions still menacing,

the matriarch must soon

move her calf

out of the water hole

With her front toenails

she breaks away the edges,

making a ramp for the short

strides of the baby.

As she leads her family

through the gauntlet of lions,

The matriarch's bloodstained

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Submitted on August 05, 2018


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