Years ago, I happened to catch part of a documentary on an elephant herd, and it made quite an impression.
Basically, a calf had just been born and was struggling to walk. The herd stayed with the wee one (well, wee for an elephant) and tried to nurture and guide it with tender trunk hugs. The calf still struggled. Soon the herd was in desperate need of water and had to move on, clearly hesitant to leave the new born. Only the parents stayed to care for the calf, who was equally in danger. The documentarians were heart-broken that their work was about to record the demise of this small family and tried to figure out how to help without creating more stress for the struggling group.
Miraculously, the next morning the calf was finally able to stand (he was an unusually tall calf and his legs had cramped in the womb; it took time for the legs to strengthen and stretch) and slowly the three made their way to a watering hole.
By the end of the program I was a crying mess and had a new love of the elephant. They are deeply loyal and loving creatures. Those studying elephants report that they display “a wide variety of behavior, including those associated with grief, art, play, use of tools, compassion and self-awareness — evidence of a highly intelligent species rivaled only by dolphins and primates.”
And, of course, these tremendous creatures are losing their natural habitat to ever expanding mankind. Then there are those who hunt them, for sport or ivory.
Today is the day to honor earth’s largest land-dwelling mammals. If you would like to help their plight, several organizations are dedicated to the protection of elephants and enforcing the poaching laws that protect them and would welcome your support.