“If elephants didn’t exist you couldn’t invent one. They belong to a small group of living things so unlikely they challenge credulity and common sense.” -Lyall Watson
I found this quote a while ago and I immediately loved it, but after this particular afternoon I spent with a herd of elephant, I knew that there wasn’t anything that could be more true and accurate. Elephant have the ability to make people cry. On numerous occasions while taking guests on game drives, people have started tearing up while watching elephant. No one can pin-point what it is, but it just seems to happen as their magnificence overwhelms us. They bring out the best in people, they ground us and they stir our souls.
It was a gorgeous spring afternoon when I stumbled across a herd of about 20 elephant going about their normal daily activities. They were browsing from branch to branch, dusting themselves and the sub adults were playing with one another. There was also an incredibly young baby in the herd, who was trying to learn how to use his trunk. He would venture far from his mom, get a fright and then quickly hurry back to her. It’s exceptional to see how such giants, are so gentle to their young, all consciously making sure not to bump him.
Elephant are known as gardeners of the soil as they play a very important role in an ecosystem.
Elephant are known as gardeners of the soil as they play a very important role in an ecosystem. They spread many plants and seeds through their dung. Often carrying seeds a long way through their gut and increasing the likelihood of germination. Elephant also create paths in the thicket, trampling down undergrowth and letting in the sunlight. This makes space for new saplings to break through and creating paths for other smaller animals. Elephant can often seem very destructive in the way they push over trees, but these fallen down trees create a barrier for grass to seed and grow, giving the grass a break from other grazers. I have seen elephant return back to their broken trees months later, pick up the tree with their trunk and eat the grass beneath it. Essentially coming back to eat their grass that they have grown. I wonder if they realise the important impact they have on an ecosystem.
There are many things that us humans could learn from these gentle giants, but the sad truth in the matter is that not all will, because most people have never been able to experience elephant in their natural environment. Or it’s been too short that they haven’t picked up on these traits. Some will never even realise how important they are. I believe spending time with elephant is always a gift and privilege, it should never be taken for granted. If you ever have the opportunity to spend time with elephant again, enjoy it, take it all in and appreciate their immense beauty. There are so many lessons to learn from these gentle souls. To be kind and patient to YOURSELF and one another are just a two.