Regarding elephants, these may be familiar to you:
2020 March 16 dedication of wild Asian elephants often come out in life to their homes, north all the way from Yunnan Xishuangbanna, Pu’er break, Yuxi, Honghe Prefecture and other human habitat, in June this year, arrived in Kunming, which lasted 15 month.
Humans saw the old guys taking their young guys strolling in the reinforced concrete of the city, and found them both novel and interesting: “It’s been a long time, old neighbors”, “You guys actually lie down and sleep”, “Come and take a breath.” Stupid baby elephant”. As a result , human social media has boiled over, using all kinds of modern tools to track the migration of old neighbors step by step.
Image source: Yunnan Provincial Forest Fire Brigade
The relationship between elephants and people seems to be undergoing a subtle change.
As early as 2 million years ago in East Africa, humans in ancient times were still hairy children who just learned to make stone tools, but our neighbor elephant has lived on this tropical grassland for tens of millions of years. At that time, we shared the same forest and grassland with this group of old guys, and we needed to be on guard at all times to avoid being trampled on by this group of big guys.
The old neighbors may never have expected that this group of once weak and marginal two-legged creatures, their offspring could actually land on the moon one day, crack the genetic code, invent the Internet and the blockchain, and of course also occupy their homes. Drive them to a limited habitat.
Feihuang Tengda, we have long forgotten those sunrises and sunsets we shared with our old neighbors until the 21st century, the day when these 16 wild elephants broke into the human gathering place.
But some people have a calm understanding of this “transformation”.
“In fact, for me, there are deep reasons for where elephants are active and where they are not. People tend to simplify and label animals, but in fact elephants are as complex as humans.” Sun Xiao said.
Sun Xiao, a volunteer for elephant conservation, a post-90s postgraduate student who has been paying attention to elephants since 2013, and a science writer who aspires to take elephants as his lifelong career.
Sun Xiao and the lovely elephant husbands of Cambodia
He hasn’t worked a day in 30 years, and he hasn’t made a lot of income in a year. He is very far away from humans and very close to elephants. These big guys still looked like neighbors next door and cousins not far from him.
Graduate students began to pay attention to elephant protection and research. In 15 years, they began to popularize elephants. From 16 to 18 years, Sun Xiao continued to do scientific research internships and volunteer work in elephant rescue organizations, shelters, and elephant camps in Kenya, Cambodia, and Thailand. He has written two 100,000-word novels about Asian elephants and African elephants, and published an album of African elephant stories.
About this group of long-lost old neighbors, we talked to him about something that may be unfamiliar to you:
Their ups and downs of coexisting with mankind in the long years, their true feelings and real situation, and how to re-understand this group of wild friends in modern times.
And all of this started when Sun Xiao witnessed an elephant being beaten for the first time on a black and windy night .
The following is Sun Xiao’s dictation (edited).
Every elephant has a unique character
The first time I felt an emotional connection with elephants was in the second year of university, and my classmates and I went to participate in a questionnaire activity about animal performances. We stayed in the middle of the night and saw a circus performer from a distance outside the fence in the backyard . She stayed on the spot, just swaying her body and head from side to side. Suddenly, “Boom, boom, boom!” There were several loud beating sounds over there. Someone picked up a long stick and hit the elephant for no reason. Then again and again, we could see the figure. The center of gravity is low, and every stroke falls on the elephant’s lap.
The elephant didn’t move, barked or dodged. You know that an elephant can easily defeat that person, but she didn’t do that. It is this kind of unresponsiveness that makes me feel sad. A behemoth over two meters high silently endures pain under the enslavement of people. Even if it is a child, if you hit him, he will cry and make trouble, but the elephant does not respond. This contrast deeply shocked me.
Then I went into the elephant house and saw the elephant again. She was tied in the middle by an iron chain less than one meter long, still swaying her body in a rigid movement. After seeing me, she stopped suddenly and seemed to be curious about me. She leaned forward and wanted to smell me with her nose. Only then did I feel that she was no longer a machine, and she was no longer at the mercy of others mechanically. She has her own cognition and her own emotions, and she sees me in her eyes.
The initial feeling for elephants was probably out of a deep compassion. Elephants are free animals. Their souls have always belonged to nature, but they have suffered for thousands of years. In Asia, elephants have been labored by humans for more than 4,000 years, and even today there are still elephants doing mountain dragging jobs that machinery cannot replace. At the beginning of the 20th century, about 10 million African savannah elephants were still roaming freely on the land of Africa. By the 1980s, only 1.3 million were left. Today, 100 years have passed, and there are only more than 400,000 heads left.
Asian elephant mud bath
African elephant showing its ears
The more you come into contact with elephants, the more you can feel that they are emotionally similar to humans. Like an old friend, you can directly substitute for human emotions and thinking. There are several pictures of elephants posted on my desk. One of them is called Ot. It is my elephant camp in Thailand. (Thai elephant camp is a profitable organization with elephants as the main medium of money. Most of them are small, private and family-owned. Sun Xiao knew a working elephant when she was doing consciousness dissemination work at an elephant camp in Thailand. Whenever I saw a photo and recalled her naughty look, I couldn’t help laughing.
Ot has a very clever personality. She has a big head, and her eyes wander around when she is still.
Ot’s big head
When she herself is in the fence, as long as there is no food around, she will play with the crossbar at the exit of the fence. The crossbar was tied by an iron chain, but the elephants all knew how to open the wooden post, and shook the iron chain with brute force to open it. But the voice is so loud that people can hear it from far away.
When Ot knows that the chain is open, she won’t come out immediately. She knew that people had heard the voice and were paying attention to her. She would wait quietly for a while, then slowly lift the crossbar down and place it gently on the ground. If someone finds shouting at her at this time, she will immediately retract her forefoot, shaking her big ears as if nothing happened.
Once no one noticed, she would cross the rail and walk out of the fence in a very slow motion. After she came out, she still walked in slow motion, as if she thought that when she slowed down, no one would pay attention to her. Her destination was a fence with bananas not far away. When I saw that she had come out completely, I would call the mahout. When the mahout shouted, before he could run over, Ot rushed back in a desperate manner.
Sometimes this guy will take a risk. If she feels that the maestro may not be able to catch up with her, she will rush to grab a handful of bananas, and then turn back, excited like a bad thing. Children.
I believe that every elephant has a unique character, just like humans.
When a baby elephant loses its mother forever
Although I have had many times with captive elephant he had intimate interaction, but for me to say wild elephants in nature free state is the most fascinating.
In October 2016, I came to Save the Elephant (STE) in Kenya and started a three-month scientific internship. It was a fulfilling and extremely happy time.
Our camp is located Sang Bleu at the foot of a nature reserve, close to the river. It feels like we are living in a huge zoo, with people in cages and animals watching.
Frequent visitor of the camp
The most enjoyable thing is to observe the elephants up close, especially to see the happy appearance of the elephant family. Observing mammoths is very interesting. Baby elephants who are just a few months old are always dizzy when they walk, and they are often at a loss when facing their noses. Sometimes they want to learn how to show their ears in adult elephants, or pretend to attack. Immediately changed, she ran back to the mother elephant, but she seemed to be frightened.
African elephant at lunch break
On the 8th day when I came to Samburu, that is, on November 10, 2016, an unforgettable event of saving the baby elephant happened to me. From searching to discovering, following to losing the target, then searching again, and finally finally I found them and sent the baby elephants to the orphanage under anesthesia. Fortunately, I witnessed the whole process.
The origin of the story is that three locals killed a 19-year-old young female elephant Rozz William for self-defense reasons. Two days later, members of the elephant rescue organization and I saw the female elephant’s body, a three-ton behemoth. The body was exposed to the sun, the head was chopped off, the nose was slanted by the body, the blood was drained, and the shape was terrible.
Iain Hamilton-Douglas, the founder of Save the Elephants, once described the death of a mother elephant’s parent: “Her brain is filled with the wisdom of making a living in the jungle for decades, so that she can lead the family to survive. In the past, she like a great pilot the ship, to come and go freely , now, a small bullet through her head, a small unit of blood out of the wound intermittently, such as hill-like flesh and blood, so scrap it. The death of an elephant is the most miserable sight I have seen in the world.”
A few days later, we found two little elephants acting alone. Needless to think about it, these are the two children of Rozz William, one is one and a half years old and the other is six. They left the elephant family and headed alone to the Shaba area 10 kilometers away, where their mother Rozz William was shot.
This incident satisfies the conditions for the rescue of the baby elephant in Kenya, that is, conservation organizations can participate in events caused by human interference, but cannot interfere with the natural process. The one-and-a-half-year-old baby elephant is still dependent on breast milk. At this time, it is almost impossible to survive without her mother. We need to send her to an elephant orphanage.
So we tried to rush them with the car, several times blocking their forward direction and using the accelerator to signal, hoping that they would return to the family to prevent them from getting lost.
But the two little guys didn’t flinch at all, and acted resolutely regardless of the vehicle’s obstruction, seeming to be firm in the direction they were going to go. In the process of following, the little elephant only paused and hesitated briefly when he smelled the sheep on the side of the road. After we drove the sheep away, the little elephants immediately set off to continue their journey of mourning.
Move forward firmly
Cross the highway
Although no one can accurately judge the intentions of the baby elephants, I firmly believe that it is the feelings of the mother that are pulling them. Elephants are sentimental social animals, and the elephant family’s mourning behavior for their companions has a large number of records.
Elephant researcher Joyce Poole once recorded the picture of elephants mourning in the book Coming of Age With Elephants: They gently stroked the corpse with their toes and soles, circled, whirled, and stroked again, as if this could be achieved. We can’t understand the information with limited sensory ability. Their movements are slow, and then, silently, they may cover the corpse with leaves or branches… Elephants may have the qualities that we think humans can possess: a sense of death and self-awareness, that is, to perceive their position in nature.
I think anyone who has seen an elephant mourning scene is deeply moved. I was in a sentimental state for the whole day. I was moved by their obsession with their mothers and their dedication to their mothers. The sentimental breasts of 1 and a half years old will eventually be taken away. What will be the fate of her and her sister.
At about 4 in the afternoon, helicopters, veterinarians and a large number of staff arrived at the scene. The helicopter and ground personnel searched for nearly an hour and determined the location of the mammoth. The one and a half year old elephant was shot by an anesthesia needle. Was got into the plane at an angle. When people were talking about a few legs still outside the door, the cool driver spoke and all started to drive me. Then the plane flew away in the eyes of everyone’s surprise, and flew towards the elephant orphanage dozens of kilometers away with a slight tilt to the left.
The picture comes from the British intern Ryan who interned with Sun Xiao
The next day we discovered that our 6-year-old sister had returned to the family. My sister has no survival problem. She will help take care of the children of other mothers, and will become a mother in a few years.
The one-and-a-half-year-old baby elephant was named Shaba by the orphanage staff, which is the name of the place where their mother died. When I went to visit her in the orphanage, she was still flustered and afraid of others, and ran her head against the fence from time to time.
Shaba in the orphanage
Later, when I wrote to inquire about Shaba’s situation, there was no response, and the information on Shaba on the website was not updated.
A baby elephant has lost its mother forever, and humans cannot be her support.
When people are struggling on the edge of life and death, how can they talk about protecting elephants?
Even if I love elephants again, I would not recommend anyone to get in touch with elephants up close. There is a saying in the elephant circle: behind every working elephant, a person may be seriously injured or killed.
When I was in Samburu Reserve, I was chased by an elephant, and the situation was very dangerous. At about six or seven that morning, a bull elephant was moving outside my tent, eating plants leisurely. I got out of the tent, kept 10 meters with him, and watched him.
After a few minutes, I thought he had gotten used to me. Knowing that I was harmless, I relaxed my guard. Suddenly, I subconsciously felt something strange in the back. I looked back and found that another elephant was running towards me. It was not the kind of nonchalant, but extremely fast, coming straight towards me. It might be possible when I found out. It’s only ten meters away from me.
Ten meters, for an adult elephant, is just two or three steps.
My head was blank, and I ran as fast as a reflex, and climbed up a tree in the distance to a place out of reach of elephants. After climbing the tree, I found that the elephant was actually far away from me, still eating food leisurely. In fact, this is a common behavior of elephants, called feints. Elephants will run a few steps, pretending to intimidate and attack. But if he wants to catch me, or runs and feels that he can catch me, then I won’t have a chance to tell this story.
After that, I can particularly appreciate the feelings of those who live next to elephants. They will always feel anxious, because people don’t know when the elephants will suddenly appear.
During my internship in Kenya, I lived in an elephant bee camp set up in a village where there was serious human-elephant conflict. The locals used bee hives to surround the farmland and used the elephant’s fear of bees to reduce the elephant’s stolen crops. Food, damage to housing facilities.
In the camp, I have a small tent for one person. For more than half a month there, I couldn’t sleep well for many days. I know that elephants walk without sound. When they are attracted by the smell of food, they can easily kill me.
My little tent
Sometimes in the early morning, there will be sudden explosions and gongs around… This is a clear signal that elephants have invaded the farmland. After that, the sound disappeared, and I couldn’t sleep anymore. The bushes around me are blown by the wind, and I always feel like an elephant is by my side.
In China, I have conducted surveys in some villages where people and elephants are in conflict. The farmland and cash crops there are frequently destroyed and stolen by elephants, causing serious losses. During the month I was there, two old people died in the village, both of them were killed by elephants. The ideal village is quiet at night, with rice fields , starry sky and fireflies, while the elephant-infested villages have frequent alarms.
When people are struggling to survive, how can they protect elephants? This is the real and complex world, not the single orientation of some animal protectionist slogans, because when we are discussing protecting elephants on a piece of land, it is very likely that we are infringing on the personal and property of another group of people. Safety. How to balance the balance between humans and elephants is a long-term undertaking, and it cannot be done once and for all.
The human-like relationship I expected
I am 30 years old this year, I haven’t attended a day’s work, nor have I joined any organization. I have always been following elephants as an independent individual, participating in all elephant-related activities , writing popular science articles, creating elephant stories, making documentaries, making unannounced investigations, participating in conservation and research.
I can probably only do what I approve of, and once things become impure, I will quit.
I know that in the mainstream values of society, I am a very marginal person. Among the success criteria constituted by achievement, wealth, and status, I seem to be in touch with none of them. But I know that in the elephant field, I am rich, and my sense of belonging comes from this.
By this year, I have been paying attention to elephants for 10 years. I think those loves that are lightly talked about without doing it for long are too trifling. 10 years is a length of time for me to recognize myself. I can finally say more confidently what kind of person I am. A lover who wants to spend a lifetime to understand and protect elephants.
I have always believed that the love for animal protection is divided into shallow and deep levels. There are many people who love at the shallow level. Most of them start from the perspective of animal aesthetics and anthropocentrism, and are satisfied with individual preferences. And deep love is more rational, starting from the overall ecology, and experiencing animals and nature from a sustainable perspective. I hope that with the support of this kind of emotion, I can go further.
After paying attention to elephants for a few years, I have set an ideal that I hope to accomplish when I am 40 to 50 years old, a shelter project for retired elephants, and a camp for popular science, protection and research of elephants.
The camp will be rooted in protected areas and poor communities that are infested by wild elephants. The work elephants will be retired through lease or buyout, and return to nature to the greatest extent possible.
Two working elephants retired in Cambodia
At the beginning of the camp, only a few large wooden platforms are needed to support daily work communication, meals, tent dormitories and other facilities. Due to the lack of electricity, signals and waterways, life in the initial stage of the project will be self-sufficient.
There will be large tracts of farmland next to the camp, planted with retired elephants and people’s food. With the increase in funding, the facilities will gradually be improved. The farmland is surrounded by different types of anti-intrusion fences to observe the behavior of wild elephants on the fences. In addition, there are areas for elephant treatment and bee products production.
I hope to recruit volunteers who love elephants to participate in camp construction, farm work, ecological restoration, elephant physical examination, and various monitoring, protection and research projects…
Here the elephant is the main body, and everyone serves the decommissioned elephant. People need to respect the elephant’s free movement habits, and may have to walk several kilometers of mountain roads when observing the natural behavior of retired elephants. The road is often difficult to walk, you may need to build a bridge, or you may need to cross the river.
I don’t know if young people in China can accept this kind of ascetic volunteer project. After all, people need to spend their own money, spend time, and do a lot of coolies, just to make the tortured elephants live better. a little better.
What I am looking forward to is this kind of human-elephant relationship: people sit on the campsite to rest after a day of work. Seeing the setting sun from a distance, several elephants bathed in the twilight, showing the behavior closest to nature, as if completely returning to nature.
(Except for special instructions, the pictures in the text are provided by Sun Xiao)
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/im-30-years-old-i-havent-worked-a-day-im-very-far-away-from-humans-and-very-close-to-elephants/
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