Today, August 12, is World Elephant Day. It is a day set aside to celebrate the life of this magnificent and gentle giant of the animal kingdom. Sri Lanka boasts of her own Asian sub species of elephant, elephas maximus maximus, with some 6,500 or more roaming the wilds, one of the highest densities of Asian wild elephants in the world.
However all’s not well with the Sri Lankan elephant with more than 350 dying each year (on the average) due the Human Elephant Conflict (HEC). Many scientists who study Sri Lankan wild elephants are of the view that maybe the tipping point has already been reached; where viable, stable populations are not prevalent in Sri Lanka anymore.
It is imperative, therefore, that all stakeholders should urgently get together and implement a holistic, overarching conservation plan (details of which have been talked about for so long) to save this wonderful animal that has brought so much fame and glory to Sri Lanka, not to mention supporting their tourism industry with popular elephant safaris.
Adapted by from a poem by Lorna Goodison
Memory claims that in a jungle once, a great mother elephant, crazed with grief for her lost son, wrapped her trunk around a baobab tree, and wrenched it free from its upside down hold in the earth and trumpeted down the hole in the earth for her vanished one.
Elephant, the lost, the cursed one, lumbers up from under the big trees, This man more pachyderm than man, skin draped loose, grey, muddy as tarpaulin, over swollen elephantiasis limbs. He moves bent over, weighed by the bag of crosses over his shoulder, his lips droop tubular.
Elephant, loneliest one in all creation, your friends the night grazing mules, tethered by dark hills…
Poor Elephant always walking hoping one day he would turn a corner and come upon a clearing familiar to long memory, wide green space and trees For there his mother and the great herds would be, free.