In honor of Save the Elephants Day (April 16th) four of the world’s leading elephant conservationists offer hope and inspiration for saving elephants, the largest land animal on earth, from extinction.
These amazing people were also interviewed in my book, Saving Wild, Inspiration From 50 Leading Conservationists. (All quotes are excerpts from my book).
Saving Elephants in Africa
- Iain Douglas-Hamilton (SaveTheElephants.org)
I consider Iain to be the grandfather of elephant conservation. Fifty years ago, at the age of 23, Douglas-Hamilton moved from Britain to Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania to live in the wild conducting the first scientific study of the social interactions of the African elephant. Douglas-Hamilton argues that collecting and analyzing large amounts of data on elephant locations and migrations can lead to insights into their choices, and therefore assist in their protection against rising threats, including poaching and human-wildlife conflict.
Iain Douglas-Hamilton was the first to alert the world to the ivory poaching holocaust, and he helped bring about the world ivory trade ban in 1989.
How does Iain Douglas-Hamilton stay inspired?
“Various collaborations of concerned individuals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), institutions and governments playing such a big role in demand reduction gives me such joy and hope that we are all working together to ensure the survival of elephants.”
“Whenever I feel down I go and hang out with the elephants in Samburu (Kenya), who are very used to me and allow me into their world to watch as a silent observer. I see the young mothers who have grown up from childhood, and I get my elephant fix for a few hours. This re-invigorates me to face and combat the awful realities of the elephants’ situation in Africa today.”
- Cynthia Moss (ElephantTrust.org)
American born Cynthia Moss moved to Africa in 1968 and has spent the past 47 years in Kenya studying elephants and working for their conservation.
How does Cynthia Moss stay inspired?
“It’s not difficult to stay inspired when one is dealing with elephants. They are infinitely inspirational—long-lived, intelligent, intensely social, charismatic, empathetic, amusing, endearing and more. Anyone could be inspired by elephants without ever seeing them in the wild.”
“Of course, there are bad days when it seems impossible to conserve elephants, but I have never once thought of giving up. There is nothing heroic or commendable about my position, there is simply no choice for me.”
- Daphne Sheldrick (SheldrickWildlifeTrust.org)
As a child Sheldrick rehabilitated injured animals before releasing them back to the wild. Today, through her Sheldrick Wildlife Trust organization she is considered the world’s expert in raising orphaned elephants (who have lost their families mainly due to poaching) and re-introducing them to the wild.
How does Daphne Sheldrick stay inspired?
“By involving oneself in the natural world, one understands that the other beings that share our planet home have to cope with far worse traumas, and yet find the courage to turn the page and focus on the living. The elephants in particular have given me the strength to emulate them in this way. There are always highs and lows in the work I do, but one simply has to cope and accept the rough with the smooth!”
Saving Elephants in India
- Kushal Konwar Sarma (ElephantDoctor.in)
Throughout India they call him the Elephant Doctor. Dr. Sarma is the veterinarian who gets the call when a rampaging bull elephant is wreaking havoc in local communities. With the world record for restraining and treating rogue tuskers, Sarma has saved countless elephants and humans and has paved a path for elephant conservation throughout Asia.
How does Kushal Sarma stay inspired?
“My pleasure lies in relieving an animal of its pain, whatever the species may be. But people associate my name more with the elephants. I get calls for elephants from all over Assam and other Indian states. It is indeed a great feeling to have my name associated with such a magnificent animal. I suppose the age-old Indian value of deriving pleasure from giving, and not from taking, is flowing through my blood. “
Want more from these people saving elephants and other conservationists around the globe? Get my new book: Saving Wild, Inspiration From 50 Leading Conservationists (foreword by Jane Goodall) on Amazon, or ask for it at your favorite bookstore worldwide.