Friday, July 19, 2024

Trunks of Wonder: The Humble Elephant

Written By Nitya Mohan

With the physique of the strong and the soul of the wise, towering trees bow their boughs and carpet their path with a gradient of lush leaves as these gentle giants tread their brambly kingdoms. Preaching lessons lost and exhibiting values forgotten, they are the cornerstones of values and wisdom.

They are the humble elephants.

“If anyone wants to know what elephants are like, they are like people, only more so.” This quote by the 17th-century dramatist Peter Corneille immaculately describes the complexity of an elephant’s character. Majestic and tough on the outside and noble and gentle on the inside, these creatures have long been a source of wonder and inspiration. With the stature of gods and chiefs to their names, these humble giants have yet much to teach humanity.

Being highly social animals, just like humans, elephants also travel in families. An elephant herd is the perfect embodiment of family values—values that are often primitive in many people but more than true in these vast herds. A typical herd consists of 6–20 members, with the wisest and most respected female, the matriarch, as its leader. The younger ones are always under the watchful eye and warm coat of protection of their elders. With a love that surpasses the boundaries of blood and condition, it has been known of elephants adopting calves and nurturing them with the same love and warmth given to their own offspring. In turn, the younger ones respect elders by placing their trunks on them and greeting them with sweet rumbles. Their family bond is one of unconditional care and profound loyalty. Hence, the loss of loved ones is felt deeply. Many times, they remember the deceased by visiting their gravesite or spending time with the relics of their ancestors. With a memory that has no competitor, they never forget a caring hand or a true friendship. Where humanity has more than often stained these pure relations with conditions and hatred, these pachyderms remind us just how important it is to be united to survive and thrive in the dense forests of our fast-paced lives.

Contrary to popular family hierarchies, in elephant herds, females are the leaders. Males leave and join separate herds, while the mothers stay with the children. Only in some herds do the males and females live together. The oldest and wisest female is chosen as the leader or matriarch. All others follow her steady path and acknowledge her decisions. The herd’s respect and love give support to the matriarch, while the matriarch, with her treasure trove of knowledge and skill, leads the herd safely to water and food and steers away from predators. Furthermore, during emergency situations, it is the matriarch’s job to make critical decisions and protect her herd. Gender equality is a norm of nature, but it has been nothing but a struggle for humanity. These elephant mothers are an exemplar of the leadership prowess that women possess and are an inspiration to men and women alike.

With lives evolved but values primitive, we humans have much to learn from these humble giants. In a rat race to reach the pinnacle, we often leave behind our families and loved ones. One glance at an elephant herd reminds us that true strength lies in unity. In a society where social inequalities callously tear apart the tapestry of equal opportunities, regal elephant mothers remind us that we are all but children of Mother Nature, showered with the same love and blessings. Elephants aren’t just animals; they are the perfect embodiment of wonder, virtue, and Mother Nature’s magic.

Featured Image Courtesy – HERD


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