For the sake of the children

Jackson Biko is saddened by the current plight of Kenya’s elephants and wants to do something for future generations.

Family_ElephantI remember once upon a time when my little girl was a tiny tot. Don’t you miss those days, when they would walk with a stagger, like they had too much wine? And that baby talk? Doesn’t that make you warm inside? Then you look away for a second and they have turned into people who choose their own shoes!

Anyway, I bought her a stuffed hippo. Expensive little sucker. I thought she’d love it, but she hated that hippo. Then one day, out of a whim, bored in the messy Nairobi traffic, I bought her a stuffed elephant. (I was living vicariously through that poor girl.) Cheap little sucker, made from cloth. Ironically she loved that elephant. Slept with it. Carried it everywhere. Sat it on its own plastic chair as she watched cartoons. Spoke to it. Her Jumbo.

For the longest time Jumbo was part of the family. I figured that she loved elephants, so one day we took her on a holiday to Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge in Taita, where a herd of elephants would come down to a few feet of the lodge to water. Scared the hell out of her.

“Do they eat people?”… “How do you know?”… “Where do they sleep?”… “They don’t have blankets?”… “Do they eat chicken?”. Cute questions, all asked as she held tightly onto my hand.

A few weeks ago, at the time of writing this, they killed one of the most iconic bulls in Kenya, called Satao. They used an arrow laced with acokanthera poison. Satao’s carcass, together with a few other carcasses, was found days later. Have you seen the carcass of an elephant with its ivory dug out of its face, crudely and brutally? It’s the saddest thing you will ever see done to any animal. Especially an animal who is so like us.

Elephants love their children like we do. They bury the dead. They mourn. They recognise themselves in the mirror. They cry. They understand when you point at something. They hold grudges against those who piss them off. Elephants have been known to break their tusks helping up other elephants who have fallen down. Just like us, elephants like getting drunk. I’m serious. They are known to raid liquor pots in African villages. Sadly we have only 70,000 or so elephants left in Kenya. In 10 years they will all be wiped out.

When I see a dead elephant, one with half its face dug out for ivory, I see my daughter, sitting before the television, her stuffed Jumbo seated on a different chair by her side, and I want to do something. You should too, for all the babies who won’t see the elephants if poaching doesn’t end.