Welcome to Jaini's Journal! This is an essay that I wrote for a university-level creative writing class, and because it was a representation of my opinion, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoyed a little peek into my mind.
I am a proud mother. There! I said it. The way she fusses over her companions making sure everyone is wearing their blankies and the way she nuzzles my face when I’m upset … it’s all just perfect. But she’s not like every daughter. I am not her biological mother so I cannot bring her home with me. Instead, I fund her stay at the special orphanage until she is old enough to go out into the world on her own. The fact that she was torn away from her biological family tormented me so much that it got me pondering on the elephant-poaching crisis.
Elephants have been illegally killed since humans learnt the value of their ivory tusks, taking away their right to live. I have never once understood how we think it is it is perfectly all right to kill another being for our own benefits, and yet we despise humans who kill our dear and loved ones. It is just so hypocritical that we can rob the lives of elephants for their tusks, and yet we think robbing someone of their possessions is completely wrong. How did we decide that we have the right to take what is not ours?
Those who support elephant poaching say it’s a huge lucrative business that brings in much-needed revenue to the economy. Each tusk is rumored to weigh 100kg and sells for more than $1,000 per 500g when sold in Asia, their primary market. While elephant poaching is illegal in Kenya and other African countries, the rate of elephants poached is sharply increasing due to the lack of proper protective measures. The money earned by poachers is then used to fund illegal activities such as terrorism and crime. More than 10,000 elephants have been poached in 2015 alone in Africa, according to the Born Free Foundation. If we don’t stop these merciless atrocities now, soon the tourists who were attracted by these magnificent pachyderms will no longer visit our backyards and we will lose out on millions.
Many people simply don’t understand that elephants play a vital role in our African ecosystems. Due to their large sizes, elephants pull down trees and break up thorny bushes to create open grasslands that help smaller animals to survive. They also dig waterholes in dry riverbeds that other animals can access. More so, they create trails that act as fire breakers and water run-offs, helping us too. The elephant dung helps replenish depleted soils with rich nutrients so we can farm. I don’t see why we kill these wonderful creatures and yet they help run our ecosystems. Instead, we should be thankful for all that they do for us.
Today there are only about 800,000 elephants left in the world. With the combination of their slow reproductive rates and the fatal effects of poaching, they are gravely endangered. We must act swiftly to save these beautiful, graceful animals, who are more like us than we know. Among others, they can be left-tusked (just like we are right and left-handed), have the ability to grieve and – true to reputation – have amazing memories. To me, they seem far more altruistic – humane – than humans.
My daughter is named “Mbegu” (a tiny seedling in Kiswahili) because of her tiny size at the time of her rescue. Her keepers at the David Sheldricks Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage will care for her till she is old enough to go out and survive. But then what? I don’t want her to go out in a world where I have to worry about her wellbeing every single moment. What kind of mother would I be then? I want my Mbegu to live in a world where she is safe in her own natural habitat.
Stop killing these striking beings because they are doing far more for us than we are doing for them.
And this is a video of our last play date 🙂
Here’s a more recent shot of Mbegu from my latest visit.
Photos and video provided by Diva Shah.