Did anyone read the article in the New York Times Magazine last Sunday about Elephants? (An Elephant Crackup). Basically it said that elephants are exhibiting signs of Post-traumatic stress disorder because of poaching, habitat loss and translocations of herds to different habitats. Elephants are killing humans without provocation, raping and killing rhinos, and have in essence, "gone wild." They have lost their parental infrastructure and it is causing the young to become unelephant-like. The writer compares this to the orphaned children of Uganda who have also lost their parental infrastructure because of war.
Charles Siebert writes, "Young elephants are raised within an extended, multitiered network of doting female caregivers that includes the birth mother, grandmothers, aunts and friends. These relations are maintained over a life span as long as 70 years. Studies of established herds have shown that young elephants stay within 15 feet of their mothers for nearly all of their first eight years of life..."
I'm not a big fan of anthropomorphism, because people usually use animal behavior to assert their own agenda. And usually the opposite is true as well. But I'm going to do it anyway, and assert my mama agenda.
I was struck mostly by the importance of a strong matriarchy. When Froggy was diagnosed with CF, my group of women friends and family rallied around us. They called their pediatricians, doctor-friends, brought goody-bags of health food, soaps and slippers for the hospital, called, emailed, and always enveloped us with love. And I'm not underestimating the importance of a strong patriarchy. But it seems like when things go wrong, when the jeeps near and the poachers aim, the mamas stand on their hind legs, swing their trunks and BRALOOOOOOOOO until the world is safe again for their babies.
A community of mamas on the reserve, or park at the end of the street, have the same incredible impact; to raise their young with the capability of empathy, love, and loyalty. Without this community of aunties, sisters, grandmas and friends, I wouldn't have survived our war. In so many ways, the world depends on elephant mamas everywhere, standing in the middle of the road so the jeeps can't pass, and the circus never comes to town.
To all the elephant mamas out there, thank you.