Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween Countdown Day 3: Eerie Elephants

Elephant videos on chimp&see are always spectacular and a bit mysterious - how is it that these forest giants can quietly appear out of nowhere and navigate the forests so elegantly?

Elephants (and their cousins) have captured the imagination of people for as long as humans have recorded history
One especially bittersweet legend comes from Kenya:
"A myth of the Kamba in Kenya tells us how elephants originated. A very poor man heard of lvonya-Ngia, 'He that feeds the Poor'. He decided to go and find Ivonya-Ngia but it was a long journey. When he finally arrived, he saw uncounted cattle and sheep, and there, amidst green pastures, was the mansion of Ivonya-Ngia, who received the poor man kindly, perceived his need and ordered his men to give him a hundred sheep and a hundred cows. 'No', said the poor man, 'I want no charity, I want the secret of how to become rich.' Ivonya-Ngia reflected for a while, then took a flask of ointment and gave it to the poor man, saying: 'Rub this on your wife's pointed teeth in her upper jaw, wait until they have grown, then sell them.' The poor man carried out the strange instructions, promising his wife that they would become very rich. After some weeks, the canine teeth began to grow and when they had grown into tusks as long as his arm the man persuaded his wife to let him pull them out. He took them to the market and sold them for a flock of goats. After a few weeks the wife's canine teeth had grown again, becoming even longer than the previous pair, but she would not let her husband touch them. Not only her teeth, but her whole body became bigger and heavier, her skin thick and grey. At last she burst out of the door and walked into the forest, where she lived from then on. She gave birth to her son there, who was also an elephant. From time to time her husband visited her in the forest, but she would not be persuaded to come back, although she did have more healthy children, all elephants." (via
I find this especially lovely as it constructs a clever origin story for why elephants are so much like us; both intelligent and kind of stubborn. It also subtly builds an argument to respect them and that they represent something we have lost and should revere. Finally I think there is a clever nod to the female social structure of elephants here: generations of grandmothers, mothers and their subadult children travelling together, with adult males occasionally meeting the female groups.

We have many amazing elephant videos at Chimp&See - check out the collection HERE

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