Friday, May 09, 2008

I Would Rather Be An Elephant In A Healthy Herd Than A Human

The cops in Philly went nuts on a suspects after an officer was recently gunned down in an unrelated incident. Of course, the blogosphere has a lot to say about this. The Field Negro understands that two wrongs don't make a right. And refers to the cop-killer as an animal. Raving Black Lunatic makes a plea against stripping away the humanity of anyone regardless of how heinous their crimes are.

I just want to leave a thought. Animals do not rape, murder or abuse their children. Animals do not willfully destroy their habitats or the habitats of others. Animals do not set up elaborate systems designed to suppress other animals.

They do none of these things unless humans have messed with them. This New York Times article is very illuminating. There are moments when you can simply change the word elephant for Black. It is scary how quickly and easily we - as humans - can undo thousands of years of evolution towards maintaining a healthy, balanced, peaceful social infrstructure. Excerpts from An Elephant Crack Up?
Since the early 1990’s, for example, young male elephants in Pilanesberg National Park and the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa have been raping and killing rhinoceroses; this abnormal behavior, according to a 2001 study in the journal Pachyderm, has been reported in ‘‘a number of reserves’’ in the region. In July of last year, officials in Pilanesberg shot three young male elephants who were responsible for the killings of 63 rhinos, as well as attacks on people in safari vehicles. In Addo Elephant National Park, also in South Africa, up to 90 percent of male elephant deaths are now attributable to other male elephants, compared with a rate of 6 percent in more stable elephant communities.
But in ‘‘Elephant Breakdown,’’ a 2005 essay in the journal Nature, Bradshaw and several colleagues argued that today’s elephant populations are suffering from a form of chronic stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture.

The number of older matriarchs and female caregivers (or ‘‘allomothers’’) had drastically fallen, as had the number of elder bulls, who play a significant role in keeping younger males in line. In parts of Zambia and Tanzania, a number of the elephant groups studied contained no adult females whatsoever. In Uganda, herds were often found to be ‘‘semipermanent aggregations,’’ as a paper written by Bradshaw describes them, with many females between the ages of 15 and 25 having no familial associations.

As a result of such social upheaval, calves are now being born to and raised by ever younger and inexperienced mothers. Young orphaned elephants, meanwhile, that have witnessed the death of a parent at the hands of poachers are coming of age in the absence of the support system that defines traditional elephant life. ‘‘The loss of elephant elders,’’ Bradshaw told me, ‘‘and the traumatic experience of witnessing the massacres of their family, impairs normal brain and behavior development in young elephants.’’

Sound familiar? And it took under 30 years for them to get really angry and fight back.

I'd rather be an elephant in a healthy herd than a human. I wouldn't have to worry about the other elephants. I'd just worry about the real predators - the humans. Those creatures who not only have messed up their own herds, but are hell bent on destroying everyone else's.


Anonymous said...

here, here Christina. if humans were elephants the world would be a better place.

Wild Life

Big Man said...


It's amazing how similar the situation with the elephants is to young black males. That's crazy. I would like to use that article on my blog in the future, would you mind?

Christina Springer said...

Wild Life, thanks.

Big Man - Have at it! I've known about this article for over a year. For me it was always simple - substitute "elephant" for "Black." I know our history. I know our present. And I do not know what our future holds. I can only hope we will apply healing to our own situation in the same way the conservationists are attempting t heal the elephant communities. I would love to see you run with this!

Big Man said...

I'm going to put something up on the blog on Thursday.

Christina Springer said...

I'll be looking forward to it, Big Man.