VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
By Ami Vitale, National Geographic photographer
When I visited Loisaba Conservancy, 56,000 pristine acres in northern Kenya that had been protected by The Nature Conservancy and others, I became smitten with two fellows named Warrior and Machine. These bloodhounds are 200+ total pounds of loving, slobbery goodness. Not only are they adorable, but they are true heroes. These big lads are protecting a better-known group of gentle giants: elephants, in one of the most enchanting landscapes on earth. Shared on #WorldElephantDay
They are big, intelligent and have a complex, multi-tiered society. They are variously loved, revered, admired, feared and sometimes abused for our entertainment. But elephants are not just ornaments that we should preserve so our children can share the world with such wondrous non-human beings. On World Elephant Day, Ian Redmond, one of the original ELEFRIENDS (who was recently trampled by one of his study animals — just a misunderstanding, he insists) reflects on the relevance of elephants to climate change.
As night falls on the Greater Kruger conservation area in northeast South Africa, adventurous elephants investigate the edge of the lengthy fence that holds them out of neighboring croplands. Cleverly and meticulously they probe for weaknesses in the barrier and work their way out. Moving through rugged and unfamiliar territory, they quickly happen upon the R40, a busy arterial road where they encounter speeding traffic, unsuspecting motorists — and the potential threat of serious injury to people and elephants.