Last night I couldn't sleep. Insomnia ruled the moonlit hours. The candles were not enough to read by, nor was the moonlight. I lay and listened to the soft night noises. There it was - a gentle sporadic swishing of grass. Another sound like a canvas sail unfurling. I sat up quietly and stepped through the mosquito net onto the creaking floorboards. Moving as quietly as possible - trying to remember which were the noisy floorboards i made my way out onto the deck. Just below where i stood, a young bull elephant was grazing on bunches of lush grass, swishing them against the ground to loosen any earth or unwanted sticks. With the wind in my favour i stood and watched him slowly move along, the moonlight washing the skin on his back with silver.
Further along the floodplain there were more dark shapes, both large and small. A breeding herd of elephants had moved into the island of trees under cover of darkness to reap the harvest of shrubs and herbs that they cannot access in daylight because people live here. In the dead of night they can move in peace.
Recently I subscribed to receive newsletters from a group called www.elephantnews.org if you would like to sign up contact firstname.lastname@example.org Every news report that involves elephants in Africa and Asia lands in your mailbox. I had to unsubscribe from the Asia list purely because the tsunami of news reports was overwhelming. Elephants truly are newsworthy!
Yet most of the news is saddening; elephants killed by poachers here, and there, in their hundreds. Crateloads of ivory from poached elephants are uncovered in major sea ports and airports across east and southern Africa. These tons and tons of blood ivory, lead to houses full of ivory processing machines and more and more cases for shipment. All destined for China and the Chinese market.
It leads me to wonder if there is still room for free ranging elephants amidst our land hungry species.
Tonight the elephants are moving further into the forest, content with their moonlight browsing. By morning they will be gone.