Listen up! Respect the elephants

aeru_logo_-_blackHello, all! My first two weeks in South Africa have flown by. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot in my time at KEP! Everyone here is extremely nice and helpful. But there is one thing that I have learned that really frustrates me, and I think it needs to be addressed.

People do not listen.

No matter what the circumstance might be, people in general tend to not listen or just go their own way. Not everyone, of course, is like this, but the people that are can ruin it for everyone.

How does this relate to elephants? I spend three to six hours a day in the field observing the elephants with tourists. The number one rule on the park is never go anywhere without a guide, and ask the guides before going anywhere. As volunteers we must follow these rules as well. These rules are in place to ensure the safety of everyone around the elephants. Yes, we can feed and pet and love the elephants, but they are still wild animals. The largest wild land animal.

For instance, one of the volunteers does not always follow the guides. This puts her in danger as well as the elephant and the other people in the area.

This problem expands further than just what I witness, and I believe this could be creating a lot of the conflict between humans and elephants. People get excited and comfortable around these animals and don’t always consider the situation at hand. Approaching any wild animal should be done with caution and in the presence of a trained professional. If no trained professional is around, the animal shouldn’t be approached. We create these images in our minds of what is and isn’t acceptable. In terms of wild animals, this could be quite dangerous. For example, if I asked you to describe a hippo, would you say cute and slow? Or violent and quick? Many people don’t know that hippos are one of the most deadly animals. I’ve seen a hippo charge at a person, and it was terrifying. Many people wouldn’t expect that from this animal.

Although elephants are amazing, gentle, and beautiful animals, it is important to learn about their behavior and always keep in mind they are wild. By simply not approaching them or listening to a professional (such as a guide) when giving instructions, numerous injuries could be avoided. This would create a more peaceful relationship between humans and elephants.

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