19 years ago, I went to Africa for the first time. I saw elephants in the wild. We saw them from a jeep a few different times, but the most memorable time was seeing one while walking out in the bush. Our guide brought me and one or two others with him -- only people he deemed interested and agile enough to bring along. We tracked a young bull for a little while, and then saw him, incredibly close. It was the most amazing sight.
We saw a herd of females with their young, the mothers and aunts turning outward from the circle to protect the babies. Elephants are majestic creatures, matriarchs, and wondrous. That is why I'm crying today.
This morning I read a New York Times op-ed piece from Sunday's paper. It was about the poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks. An illegal activity, but done in great numbers nonetheless because of people in Asia willing to pay a lot for the ivory.
What's so incredibly disturbing and sad is that elephants are being killed right and left for their tusks. I am not sure why one can't tranquilize an elephant and saw off a little piece of tusk. Not that this would be great either, but it would save the elephant.
Between 2002 and 2011, 62 percent of the African elephant population was slaughtered. That's MORE THAN HALF. GONE. FOR GOOD. FOREVER. I was stunned when I read this statistic.
A year ago, during a trip my parents took us on to the Caribbean, I convinced my then five year old daughter to try snorkeling. She was a bit timid about it, but I persuaded her because I wanted her to see what I had seen the last time I was in the Caribbean as a teenager: the beautiful underwater world of coral and tropical fish. She had only seen it in "Nemo." I had seen the real-life version. But then we discovered something: it was all gone. The coral was gone. What coral remained was gray and lifeless as a rock. There were barely any fish. The most colorful fish we saw were in photographs on a museum wall. I was stunned. The Caribbean I remembered was GONE. Obliterated. So polluted by rising sea temperatures and chemicals dumped in the ocean that it was dead.
I didn't get to show my daughter real-life undersea treasures.
I do want to be able to show her real-life elephants.
What perhaps shocks and saddens me most is that people don't seem to care. People seem to care far more about other things -- like money -- than about taking care of, literally, our world. It honestly just baffles my mind. If you don't take care of our world, it won't be here. It will be GONE. FOREVER. Think about what your children will face when they are our age. Do you really want your children to just have to look at photographs of elephants on a museum wall? Photographs of forests? Photographs of clean air?
Take action now. If you don't want to give money, at least sign the petition at www.ifaw.org
That's the International Fund for Animal Welfare.