Heyyyy everyone. The heat wave returned this week and it returned with a vengeance. I won’t bore you all with another whiny “it’s so hot” blog post. Nor can I offer anything in depth on our usual topics of art history, modeling, music, etc. My brain feels too fried to produce thoughtful writing or analysis. Reading comes more easily, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading these past couple of days. I thought I’d share an article I read recently about a subject close to my heart – elephant poaching in Africa and the ivory trade which drives it. The piece is titled “Inside the Global Industry That’s Slaughtering Africa’s Elephants” and it was written by Matthew Scully. Scully is the author of a magnificent book about animal welfare called Dominion which I consider to be a true masterpiece on the subject of animals, and I’ve read almost all of them. The elephant article is very long and it’s not my intention to give a homework assignment to my readers. There won’t be a quiz! But the piece is extraordinarily well-written and thorough. It addresses all aspects of this cruel, ruthless practice and the politics involved. China is largely the villain but certainly not the only one.
Two Elephants by Amrita Sher-Gil:
I have loved elephants ever since I was child. Accounts of baby elephants witnessing their parents getting murdered by poachers and having their tusks ripped out, often when the animal is still alive, are extremely hard to take. And when we consider the emotional bonds these highly intelligent creatures share with each other and their habitats, this operation becomes nothing less than a vicious, barbaric, epic crime. The elephants, being such intuitive animals, literally live in fear. Frankly, it makes my blood boil. This excerpt reveals the callous mentality behind elephant poaching:
Scientists tell us that elephants have death rituals. They will, for instance, cluster around a dead individual and touch the carcass with their trunks, and then return much later to caress the bones. Mkanga, the first poacher, is asked if he knows that elephants mourn their dead. He shifts in his chair, adjusts his Safari Beer cap, and smirks. “Sometimes when they have a funeral, it’s like a party for me,” he says. “You shoot one, and before he dies the others come to mourn for the one who is injured. And so I kill another one, and kill another one.”
Appalling. Scully goes on to write, “rarely will you find so much depravity converging on such innocence. After ages in our midst, the most powerful of creatures and among the most gentle, so completely unoffending and yet so endlessly persecuted”, butchered just so people can eat their noodles with ivory chopsticks. One need not be a lifelong animal welfare supporter like me to recognize that what’s happening to the African elephants is an obscenity that must be stopped.
An elephant sketch in black chalk by Franc Marc:
Try to keep cool my friends. If I don’t see you sooner, I’ll see you here on Monday for my birthday. Be well.