by Thyra: Animals have always been hugely important in my life, from the plight of puppy mill dogs to the horrific tragedy of canned hunting. But it wasn’t until my second safari to Tanzania in 2013 that I truly “got” elephants.
Like any day on safari, it was an exciting morning, game drives and photo opportunities abounding, an “Am, I really here? Better pinch myself” type of day, surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscape and creatures on mother earth. Our fantastic guide, a native Tanzanian appropriately named Goodluck, had taken my husband and I to a vantage point high on a hill overlooking the expansive Tarangire National Park.
Armed with high powered binoculars we settled in to just observe the majesty of nature from afar. Mother nature did not disappoint! Below us unfolded a scene of exquisite drama, played out like a PBS mini-series.
A small herd of mama elephants was grazing on the riverside, keeping watchful vigils on the antics of a few youngsters that were frolicking in the river nearby. A host of water birds were also enjoying the crisp morning fishing and diving in and out of the sparkling water. A scene undoubtedly being replayed all over the African continent on this glorious day. I scanned the scene until my eye was inexorably captured by the tiniest elephant, a little, rough and tumble toddler, ear flapping his oversized ears and “charging the birds’ over and over again, then running to his mama’s and aunties while the birds squawked their displeasure. To my eyes it was unadulterated magic! Suddenly it just clicked! I more than saw, I “felt” this baby elephant. An intense, profound spiritual connection was cemented on that day. Had fate allowed I would be on that hill to this day, watching that baby just being a baby!
Along with that connection came the horrifying image of that same baby, poisoned, shot, and chainsawed for the sake of her little tusks. The image came into my heart/mind so jarringly, so terrifyingly it was the emotional punch to the spirit akin to watching a bus load of loved ones careening of a cliff to disaster.
The juxtaposition of those two fierce images, the happy, dancing baby and the brutalized, dismembered carcass took my breath away. I recoiled. Before I knew it I was swearing to heaven, the universe and the earth mother all at once “I will do whatever it takes to prevent that fate for this little baby, whatever it takes, be it money, or resources or time, anger, love, prayers or vigils I won’t rest until these creatures can live out their lives free from threat, humanely treated and respected for the magnificence of their souls!”
That day, was more than a safari, it was the birth of a passion. A passion and purpose larger than me. I must make a difference, by any means at my disposal. These creatures can’t leave the earth, I will spend the remaining days of my life fighting for elephants. Once your eyes are opened, they can never be closed again.