One of Earth’s most influential keystone species may be disappearing at a rate of one every 15 minutes. This is a tribute to these giants and the way they have touched the lives of those of us lucky enough to have watched the water spill from their trunks and heard their gentle thunder.
Let us be the generation that halted the decline of the elephant.
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“Of all African animals, the elephant is the most difficult for man to live with, yet its passing – if this must come – seems the most tragic of all. I can watch elephants (and elephants alone) for hours at a time, for sooner or later the elephant will do something very strange such as mow grass with its toenails or draw the tusks from the rotted carcass of another elephant and carry them off into the bush. There is mystery behind that masked gray visage, and ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.” ― Peter Matthiessen. Image by James Kydd (rangerdiaries.com)
“But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that there are no walls between humans and the elephants except those that we put up ourselves, and that until we allow not only elephants, but all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.” ― Lawrence Anthony. Image by guide James Kydd (rangerdiaries.com)
“If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected.” – Chief Seattle. Image by Marina Cano (marinacano.com)
“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. Image by Mems and Farida Carim.
“When animals express their feelings they pour out like water from a spout. Animals’ emotions are raw, unfiltered, and uncontrolled. Their joy is the purest and most contagious of joys and their grief the deepest and most devastating. Their passions bring us to our knees in delight and sorrow.” ― Marc Bekoff. Image by Mario Moreno (mariomorenophotography.com)
“Let us remember that animals are not mere resources for human consumption. They are splendid beings in their own right, who have evolved alongside us as co-inheritors of all the beauty and abundance of life on this planet” ― Marc Bekoff. Image by Mees Kuiper.
“The world’s wildlife, both on land and in our waters, is such a precious resource, but it is also a limited one. It cannot be manufactured. And once it’s gone, it cannot be replenished. And those who profit from it illegally are not just undermining our borders and our economies. They are truly stealing from the next generation.” – Hilary Clinton. Image by Andy Biggs (andybiggs.com)
“I meant what I said and I said what I meant – An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent!” – Dr Seuss. Image by guide Calvin Kotze (ulusaba.com)
“Where will your tusks go? They will leave Africa, hidden in dirty sacks, in boxes, trucks, and stores, changing hands from man to man. No one will know who you were, where you lived. You will be like thousands of others, unknown, abused, and used. One day, a piece of you will be cut into myriad items.” – Oria Douglas Hamilton. Image by guide Richard de Gouveia (sabisabi.com)
“Human beings are a part of the animal kingdom, not apart from it. The separation of “us” and “them” creates a false picture and is responsible for much suffering. It is part of the in-group/out-group mentality that leads to human oppression of the weak by the strong as in ethic, religious, political, and social conflicts.” ― Marc Bekoff. Image by guide Brendon Cremer (brendoncremer.com)
“What we most need to do is to hear within us the sound of the Earth crying.” – Thich Nhat Hanh. Image by Ken and Michelle Dyball (purenaturesafaris.com)
“If we are to use our tools in the service of fitting in on Earth, our basic relationship to nature – even the story we tell ourselves about who we are in the universe – has to change.” – Janine M. Benyus. Image by Marina Cano (marinacano.com)
“If we’re destroying our trees and destroying our environment and hurting animals and hurting one another and all that stuff, there’s got to be a very powerful energy to fight that. I think we need more love in the world. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” – Ellen DeGeneres. Image by Keith Connelly (motswari.com)
“We admire elephants in part because they demonstrate what we consider the finest human traits: empathy, self-awareness, and social intelligence. But the way we treat them puts on display the very worst of human behavior.” – Graydon Carter. Image by Marius Coetzee (mariuscoetzee.com)
“Sit down before fact like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.” – T.H. Huxley. Image by guide Etienne Oosthuizen (etienneoosthuizen.com)
“Today’s massive loss of species and habitat will be slowed only when the human community understands that nature is not an inferior to be exploited or an enemy to be destroyed but an ally requiring respect and replenishment. We are part of the web of life. Many strands already have broken. We must act quickly to repair what we can. Our lives and livelihood depend on it.” – United Nations Environment Programme. Image by guide Andrew Schoeman (andrewschoeman.co.za)
“Only elephants should own ivory.” – Yao Ming. Image by Mario Moreno (mariomorenophotography.com)
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi. Image by guide Morkel Erasmus (morkelerasmus.com)
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” – Rachel Carson. Image by Mario Moreno (mariomorenophotography.com)
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” – John Muir. Image by Ken and Michelle Dyball (purenaturesafaris.com)
“The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?” – Sir Davd Attenborough. Image by Marina Cano (marinacano.com)
Follow the Okavango Wilderness Project on our expedition through the Okavango Delta where we will encounter the world’s greatest herds of elephants: