It’s often suggested that mankind cannot and should not use human emotions to interpret the actions of animals, but we watched herds of elephants as they displayed naturally maternal actions towards their young.
They nurtured and loved those younger and smaller than themselves, ensuring that the young were protected, observed and cared for at all times. From the gentle touch of trunk to trunk, to the youngest’s consistent grip on their tails, their emotions manifested themself in behaviour which can only be described as loving.
The most important thing in the world to a baby elephant is its mother and its extended family.
Elephants share with us humans many traits – the same span of life, and they develop at a parallel pace so that at any given age a baby elephant duplicates its human counterpart, reaching adulthood at the age of twenty. Elephants also display many of the attributes of humans as well as some of the failings. They share with us a strong sense of family and death and they feel many of the same emotions.
They also have many additional attributes we humans lack: incredible long range infrasound, communication in voices we never hear, such sophisticated hearing that even a footfall is heard far away, and of course they have a memory that far surpasses ours and spans a lifetime. They grieve deeply for lost loved ones, even shedding tears and suffering depression. They have a sense of compassion that projects beyond their own kind and sometimes extends to others in distress. They help one another in adversity, miss an absent loved one, and when you know them really well, you can see that they even smile when having fun and are happy*.
(* Elephant Emotion. Daphne Sheldrick D.B.E.: 1992 UNEP Global 500 Laureate)
Ever since our first visit to Kenya in 2005 we’d fallen in love with the continent and had longed to return. For four years we’d played our Africa CDs daily and viewed our photos longingly, anticipating the day we would return. Back in 2009 we had our chance…
Each morning we bounded out of our beds and into the wilderness, eager and hopeful of what the day would bring. We owe much of our success to the fantastic guides and staff of the Kicheche Bush Camp, Mara Safari Club and David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, who we cannot praise enough and to whom we long to return.
It is through our experiences and time in Kenya that we tell, and re-live, our memories of this amazing continent, and above all, of the Maasai Mara.