On our various trips to Africa we’d witnessed a few occasions where animals have been suffering. It’s never easy, and always raises a tear to your eye. But is a useful reminder of the fragility of the earth we live in, and that even the seemingly most powerful of animals are vulnerable.
- We have witnessed a safari vehicle get in-between an elephant mother and her calf – the mother reared up and trumpeted, signalling that she was about to charge the vehicle to get to her baby. The calf was crying – I have never heard a noise like it. It was heart breaking, and a firm reminder that they are the true bosses of the bush!
- We have seen two cheetah kills. The first was a grown cub of one of the cheetahs which featured on the BBC Big Cat Diary. We watched her catch and kill a deer right before our eyes. The second, was a mother cheetah and two cubs catching and killing a baby foal. The mother used it as an opportunity to teach the cubs how to hunt. They kept letting the foal escape and then catching it again. It was gruesome, but a true reminder of the circle of life.
- We saw an elephant in South Africa who only had half a trunk. We think he must have lost the other half to a crocodile attack. It’s helplessness was saddening and alarming. There was nothing we could do but watch and pray that it survived another day. We revisited the environment a few times after the first sighting to check up on it – but we never saw him again. I still think about that ellie to this day. I hope he’s alive, stronger and surviving.
- We have also seen other wounded elephants – for example a maimed elephant was abandoned by her herd in Samburu National Park, Kenya and we found her wandering the bush alone, hopping along on her three good feet.
- And of course, the orphan elephants in the DSWT centre in Nairobi –I witnessed the most profound and emotional suffering I have ever seen in an animal. What angers me most is that this suffering is ‘natural’. It’s not Mother Nature’s circle of life. We / humans caused it. It’s our fault. We’re monsters!