I finally got around to watching the Netflix documentary on elephant poaching in Africa called The Ivory Game tonight. And just as I thought I would, I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed watching these conservation specialists roam Africa, finding these dead elephant carcasses, all with their tusks cut off, some even beheaded. The way that elephants bond is so precious, and in some ways, could be even more human than the way humans interact. When an elephant in a herd dies, the rest of the herd mourns; they even cry to express their deep hurt and suffering.
In the last seven years, the elephant count has decreased across Africa by 30 percent. From the 1970s until now, the total elephant population across the continent has decreased from several million to only about 400,000 in 2016. And it’s all because of the ivory trade in China and Vietnam.
Even though it was on my TV screen and it wasn’t in real life, it really hurt to see the dead elephant bodies. It’s already so terrible to see human bodies dead — from a size perspective, elephants make us seem like little mice. So to see the dead bodies of the largest creatures on earth staring at you — it’s like the worst form of death, a true erosion of living beings all because of the disgusting greed of human beings.
When we were on our safari, noting that elephants were the largest animals in the bush, I asked our guide who elephant predators are, and he was stone faced as he responded, “Man; man is elephant’s greatest enemy.” Of course, lions will go after baby elephants since they are smaller, but for the most part, though lions pretty much rule the land, they won’t go after adult elephants because of their sheer size difference. And given the elephant poaching, anti-poaching units are staffed with people risking their own lives to keep these elephants alive.
Elephants and people are dying just for ivory.