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Killing Elephants

African Savannah Elephant
African Savannah Elephant
If elephant poaching continues, the African elephants face near extinction within 10 years, where East African Savannah elephants will be next. | Photo: Julie Larsen Maher, World Conservation Society | African Savannah Elephant, 96 Elephants Campaign, African Elephants, Lra,

Greed and vanity are killing the world

We as human beings have done so much to thoughtlessly destroy the world we live in including killing ourselves over religious, political or reproductive differences, perhaps in the end God, if he (notice I use the word he) is God, will damn us for only one. Symbolically, for all the rest we've done, for our decimation of the world's elephant population.

The elephant is perhaps next to the whale, the most majestic and awe inspiring of all nature's creations. The destruction of these gentle giant beasts, who exhibit the regal and stoic dignity of the natural world, maybe that alone could and should damn us to the hell we are creating for ourselves right here on this earth.

Since time immemorial they have plodded across the plains of Africa, elephants, an endless (seeming) line of great beasts, trumpeting their calls, ambling in their gait, permanent, dependable in their existence like the reassuring changing of the seasons---- across the horizons of our psyche. That's what makes them valuable. Even if you've never seen a wild elephant or been to Africa, the thought of the existence of such creatures makes life on earth in our suffocating cities and our little petty lives with our imagined fears and hurts and squabbles with each other----the wonder of it----an animal almost the size of a house walking as free as the wind. It somehow makes life bearable because it gives color and depth to our imaginations.

A world in which there are splendors and wonders is a world worth living in.

A world stripped and murdered of all its natural conditions because they are in the way of so-called human progress or because money can be made off their destruction is a disinherited world of barrenness amid the boredom of despair.

If you can't see them in nature, you can't see them in your mind either, you can only imagine them as we do the dinosaur which is somehow different, a mere foot-note instead of reality.

When something becomes something that used to exist (the white rhino is at the precipice of extinction), we can look only at ourselves. Everything else is gone.

Every day on Facebook, a self-posting page basically for narcissists, you see people if one can call them that, some of them fat, some teenagers, some blonde model-looking women, most of them men, all of them looking smug, posing with some large game animal they've killed in Africa. Usually species endangered or about to be.

They look happy, proud, these people. They killed an animal that meant them no harm but only tried to live out its life for another day. These amateur vacationing hunters don't kill for meat to feed themselves, to escape starvation. They don't kill for survival, for defense. The animal they kill posed no physical threat and in fact they had to drive for miles in an all-terrain vehicle to find something to kill. No. They kill for the sheer joy of killing something, so they can pose for a photo to paste on Facebook. If God can give or take life, then so perhaps can we be God if we take the life of a helpless animal.

I can only imagine the motivation for killing an animal like a giraffe or an elephant with a high-powered rifle, for no reason other than the imagined alleged prestige that you were able to end existence on terms of your own choosing. After all, it gives you a story about yourself you can tell others about, about yourself.

Numbers tell the story. Approximately 100,000 elephants have been killed by poachers in just the past three years, again not for meat to avoid starving, not a case of survival, it's either you or me, but for their ivory tusks, so that decorative pieces of vanity and human failing can be produced and sold on a marketplace for money.

That doesn't count the hobbyists who kill them for no reason at all.

Greed and vanity are killing the world's elephants, cowardice too.

There are many culprits, from the yellow-belly junket-taking American who wants to play Great White Hunter, to the ruthless Chinese jewelry black-marketer or the aphrodisiac-licking-pigmy with a three-inch reproductive organ who needs egomaniacal help. African poachers supplying the ivory can point to the self-perceived imagined poverty of their financial circumstances, which perhaps is at least a little more honest in its obscenity. More so than the moneyed, imported ass with the rifle, provisions and tents.

It's all theft.


All of it, from a world's future population that will have to imagine what elephants must have been when there are no longer any left in the wild, a world devoid of wonder, a world all of us apparently deserve.

I have a dream of comeuppance. Let's say you're a walking upright peace of sh't who took an expensive rifle you purchased for the simple joy of killing something so you feel like the master of life and death. You got on an airline and hired all the guides and spent all that money so you can show off to yourself you're something important instead of the insignificant temporary blob of skin measuring about 25 inches across that you really are.

If you could be sold like the ivory that's sold you'd be worth collectively about $1.25.

In my dream you stand before God asking for salvation and God says, "Why did you shoot that elephant? I gave that elephant to you, you bastard, as proof of the glories of creation, my creation, its and yours. And look what you did. Turned it into a pile of garbage and then got back on a jet and took off. You no-good sonofabitch."

It makes me more religious dreaming that.

That won't stop the slaughter of elephants however.

Only galvanized world opinion and real-world penalties and the shutting down of Asian ivory markets and the jet-setting thrill-killing idle hunters can prevent the extinction. Only the preservation of the range on which elephants and other animals depend for survival can. It's only a sliver of hope. Greed and cowardice are parts of what we are.

In that way people and elephants are different. The elephant strips the trees for food, but the tree remains and grows new leaves. The person on the other hand kills or destroys that which cannot be replaced. Then he calls it progress to justify his mindless selfish savagery.

The world becomes a lesser place.

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Updated Apr 22, 2017 5:29 AM EDT | More details

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