A Speculated Hope


Elleni Stephanou, Local Intern

Date Published

I know my last blog was dark and depressing; so I would like to offer some hope

She is 20 years old and has two healthy calves whose female calf, incidentally, is also tuskless. She is living a good life so far, with absolutely no visible hardships despite lacking the pieces elephants have become famed for-her tusks. This is a genetic trait we have witnessed a few elephants to have, most noticeably in females. Maybe, poaching will act as an artificial selection against those elephants with tusks, forcing an advantage on those elephants that lack them. In other words, elephants will soon all lack tusks, causing there to be no reason for further poaching. This is complete speculation, and maybe it is only possible due to my naivety to this field. But I can’t help but try and think of any other possible outcome from this situation than extinction. Another rather strange happening is that a lot of elephants have broken their tusks recently. I’m not sure how they are doing it, maybe the way they play in the mud and use their tusks to root through vegetation, or through sparring with one another, results in the odd snap, but I always think ‘win!’ when I see another elephant has somehow managed it. When I visited Nanyuki late last year, one of the biggest problems they faced with elephants was that the bulls had learnt how to knock over electric fences to get into peoples land and eat their vegetation. But the problem did not end with the bulls.

The bulls would somehow relay this information; ‘teach’ it, to other elephants keen on getting at the enclosed vegetation as well. Again, this is pure speculation, but maybe elephants will similarly learn that it is their tusks that endanger them, by seeing the carcasses of their lost relatives, and begin breaking them deliberately because they see elephants without haven’t been harmed. This is again due to my naivety and lack of education in the areas that could prove such behaviour, and so I am not offering concrete evidence nor a concrete outcome. I merely wish to believe that nature has its way of fighting back, and these could be her methods. Food for thought. On an unrelated note, this week has held some strange encounters for us all. Weirdest of all being a great white egret who caught a rat, flicked it around using its beak, and then swallowed the rat whole! I had never heard of such before but witnessing the humongous lump edge it way down the egret slender neck was definitely one of the most bizarre happenings I’ve ever seen. Also a young female elephant came up close to the car intrigued by something inside and began ‘playing’ with us. You know the classic head bob a kasuku (African Grey parrot) does, up and down and up and down? Well this elephant was doing the same directly outside the window. It was very comical seeing such size move with such speed and fluidity!