Wake-up before it’s too late

I watched the documentary “The Elephant Queen.”

For those who don’t know about it, it’s a 2019 documentary made by the fantastic cinematographer couple Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone and took almost five years to complete.

The documentary follows a herd of African Elephants that travel from a waterhole to another water source to seek refuge from the drought. The pack is led by the matriarch “Athena,” a 50-year-old queen that leads her herd through challenging situations.

The documentary does justice by avoiding sensationalization and shows the delicate balance of how the Elephants co-exist with other companions in the waterhole, including chameleons, bullfrogs, turtles, tortoises, etc., each heavily relying on the other for their procreation and survival. A subtle shift in things and everything may fall.

It also mentions how crucial even an Elephant’s footsteps are to fill the waterholes during rain.

I highly recommend watching it on Apple TV or any other available source to know more about the documentary. It’s funny, thought-provoking, emotional, sad, and everything in-between. It will be worth every second of your time.

But the thing that captured me the most about the documentary was its ending “dedication message.”

The documentary was dedicated to “Satao,” the Patriarch of another Elephant herd shown in the movie. Satao was one of Kenya’s largest African Elephants (45-year-old), and his tusker was 6.5 ft (it touched the ground).

Satao, the majestic, soulful living being, was killed by a Poacher on 30th May 2014 using a poison dart. His face was carved to take out its tusks.

This broke me. How could someone even think of killing such a fantastic creature?

That’s when I realized that this wasn’t something new. Every day we hear animals becoming more and more endangered or extinct due to plenty of human activities such as deforestation, Poaching, trophy hunting, industrialization, etc.

How could I not see that more beautiful and soulful beings like Satao were being killed for human greed, stupidity, and selfishness? I decided to do more research specifically with relation to Poaching, and here’s what I learned:

#1 In the 1980s, around 100,000 Elephants were killed per year due to the Ivory trade.

#2 Ivory trade was a billion-dollar market.

#3 In 1989, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species or CITES banned the Ivory trade

#4 Poaching reduced drastically for a few years.

#5 In 2007, the illegal supply of Ivory, especially to specific Asian countries, increased dramatically.

#6 Ivory was being seen as a symbol of “wealth” and “status” (instead of a symbol of shame for killing a majestic animal just for human insecurities).

#7 Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed: 42,000 in Central Africa, 24,000 in Eastern Africa, and 41,000 in Southern Africa.

#8 The population of African Elephants went down by 30% from 2007 to 2014 — around 350,000 remain.

#9 Poaching is on the decline, but only because of the involvement of many many activists, cinematographers, rangers, and other ground staff who are risking their lives to protect these amazing beings.

Shocking right? I almost feel ashamed about how unaware I was.

If you feel as heartbroken as I do, I would like to provide few ways by which we can contribute towards Environmental conservation and help these beautiful beings.

(Disclaimer: This is only based on personal experiences. Please do your research before taking any steps):

a. If you ever see someone flaunting an ivory jewelry/item, inform them about what it represents. No matter how many generations it would have been passed down to, it isn’t something to be proud of owning; it’s something to be ashamed of. Legal ivory promotes the trade of illegal ivory.”

b. Learn, educate others, repeat.

c. The problem isn’t the poachers; the problem is the demand. It goes back to point a. Inform people about the “price” of those ivory jewelry/items.

d. Encourage documentaries such as “The Elephant Queen” and “The Ivory Game” to raise awareness about our planet’s ground reality.

e. Volunteer with organizations that promote wildlife conservations. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer right from your home. Few examples are educating others, fundraising, etc.

f. Donate to organizations that assist rangers who are risking their lives every day to protect these beautiful beings.

One such organization that I recently learned about was Big Life foundation, co-founded by Wildlife photographer Nick Brandt. You can find the details of the organization and the photographer in the below links:

g. Last but not least, understand the cause behind Poaching. Extreme poverty pushes people to put their and the animal’s lives under severe risks just to feed their families.

If each one of us privileged humans made an effort to share our wealth and resources with the financially poorer communities (they are poor because their lands and resources were taken away from them due to colonization and industrialization), we would be able to co-exist better with the other owners of this world, i.e., the animals, plants, fishes and all organisms.

In the 1500s, the African Elephant population was 26 million. Today, we are at a mere 350,000.

Would you like to tell our future generations that “there once existed a majestic creature called an Elephant,” or would you one day like to show these beautiful beings in their natural habitat?

It’s up to you. It’s up to us.

Check out my YouTube channel for inspiring videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBfUxVSxC0koxGSkwzVRYzQ

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Seethal Jayasankar

Seethal Jayasankar

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I quit my 4-year Oil & Gas related job to Volunteer in gardens & work in the field of Sustainability.