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An Elephant Crackup? (Social breakdown, violence, and PTSD in non-humans)

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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 11:35 PM
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An Elephant Crackup? (Social breakdown, violence, and PTSD in non-humans)
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/08/magazine/08elephant.h...

An Elephant Crackup?

By CHARLES SIEBERT
Published: October 8, 2006

Were not going anywhere, my driver, Nelson Okello, whispered to me one morning this past June, the two of us sitting in the front seat of a jeep just after dawn in Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda. Wed originally stopped to observe what appeared to be a lone bull elephant grazing in a patch of tall savanna grasses off to our left. More than one rogue crossed our path that morning a young male elephant that has made an overly strong power play against the dominant male of his herd and been banished, sometimes permanently. This elephant, however, soon proved to be not a rogue but part of a cast of at least 30. The ground vibrations registered just before the emergence of the herd from the surrounding trees and brush. We sat there watching the elephants cross the road before us, seeming, for all their heft, so light on their feet, soundlessly plying the wind-swept savanna grasses like land whales adrift above the floor of an ancient, waterless sea.

Then, from behind a thicket of acacia trees directly off our front left bumper, a huge female emerged the matriarch, Okello said softly. There was a small calf beneath her, freely foraging and knocking about within the secure cribbing of four massive legs. Acacia leaves are an elephants favorite food, and as the calf set to work on some low branches, the matriarch stood guard, her vast back flank blocking the road, the rest of the herd milling about in the brush a short distance away.

After 15 minutes or so, Okello started inching the jeep forward, revving the engine, trying to make us sound as beastly as possible. The matriarch, however, was having none of it, holding her ground, the fierce white of her eyes as bright as that of her tusks. Although I pretty much knew the answer, I asked Okello if he was considering trying to drive around. No, he said, raising an index finger for emphasis. Shell charge. We should stay right here.

Id have considered it a wise policy even at a more peaceable juncture in the course of human-elephant relations. In recent years, however, those relations have become markedly more bellicose. Just two days before I arrived, a woman was killed by an elephant in Kazinga, a fishing village nearby. Two months earlier, a man was fatally gored by a young male elephant at the northern edge of the park, near the village of Katwe. African elephants use their long tusks to forage through dense jungle brush. Theyve also been known to wield them, however, with the ceremonious flash and precision of gladiators, pinning down a victim with one knee in order to deliver the decisive thrust. Okello told me that a young Indian tourist was killed in this fashion two years ago in Murchison Falls National Park, just north of where we were. (much more at link)
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Helga Scow Stern Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-08-06 11:50 PM
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1. Amazing and sad article. Thanks for posting. n/t
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flamingyouth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 11:25 AM
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2. Sad and powerful article.
Thanks for posting it.
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CrispyQ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 11:25 AM
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3. Excellent article.
"They have no future without us. The question we are now forced to grapple with is whether we would mind a future without them, among the more mindful creatures on this earth and, in many ways, the most devoted."

"Even as were forcing them out, it seems, the elephants are going out of their way to put us, the keepers, in an ever more discomfiting place, challenging us to preserve someplace for them, the ones who in many ways seem to regard the matter of life and death more devoutly than we."


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peacebuzzard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-09-06 11:04 PM
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4. Very sad situation for the elephants today.
that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture.

the author works from the heart with passions for these magnificent beings.

So sad is the plight of the elephant.

An insightful read.
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Shakespeare Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-11-06 02:59 AM
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5. This REALLY needs to be kicked back up.
This is an incredibly important story. Aside from the obvious animal rights issues, the repercussions this has for our own species are enormous. READ this story.

It's one of the most fascinating--and frightening and heartbreaking--pieces I've read in a very long time.
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peacebuzzard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-11-06 09:43 PM
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6. I have thought of these amazing animals all day
kick
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