Walking with elephants

Dear Family and Friends,

A herd of elephants gather at a watering hole in Hwange National Park October 14, 2014. The watering hole was one of several that were contaminated by poachers with cyanide in 2013, leading to the death of at least 100 animals, according to Zimbabwean authorities. Picture taken October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE – Tags: ANIMALS CRIME LAW)

Under a stormy November sky I headed north east on the highway. It was a very hot day and the humidity was suffocating; the rains are very near. Up a steep and winding mountain road a  lone Jacaranda tree was still dropping the last of its purple flowers and round the next bend were five big baboons, heads down, bottoms up, tails arched, completely absorbed in licking up powdered grain spilled on the highway.  At the next corner there was an horrific accident, a huge 30 ton rig had crushed a little car and the sides of the rig had peeled off and lay scattered all over the road. Driving was treacherous as scores of people crowded onto the roadside to look at the accident and I couldn’t help but question how on earth man and nature can keep on living side by side like this.

While the world came together at COP 26 and talked about protecting our planet, slowing emissions, stopping deforestation and controlling pollution we hung our heads in Zimbabwe. With shock we saw the embarrassingly bloated entourage of 100 people from Zimbabwe that went to Glasgow from our broke, hungry, impoverished country. We read about the luxury private aircraft that the President hired from Azerbaijan at a cost of almost a million US dollars and I just grieved for the future of our natural heritage.

Nearly forty years ago I had an unforgettable encounter with our natural heritage when I cared for two orphaned baby elephants that had been rescued from a cull. We named the elephants Rundi and Muku and every day for two years we walked, the elephants and me, as they learned to survive without the nurture, protection and teaching of their herds and I learned about healing and trust. Two years filled with laughter and tears, adventures and misadventures and always the question on my mind, could they, would they have their life of sixty years in Zimbabwe? Would poachers eliminate them? Would the National Parks be protected? Would the environment be able to sustain them?

Zimbabwe is currently gripped with a deep moral dilemma. Zimparks, the government’s department of National Parks, the custodians and protectors of all flora and fauna, have announced that they are considering culling elephants again for the first time in 33 years. To shine a light on this issue I have just released a new edition of my book ‘Rundi, Walking with Elephants.’ While the story is heart warming and the 47 photographs enchanting, this issue is profoundly complex hugely controversial and deeply emotive. More than ever we need thoughtful measured leadership.

When I met Rundi 10 years after she had left my care she remembered me immediately. Towering over me she walked straight up to me, made her rumbled greeting and laid her trunk in my hair the way she always had when she was a baby; she had not forgotten me and I had not forgotten her. Follow this link to watch the video preview of the book https://youtu.be/eGX6rtHakQM and this link to order a copy   https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/CathyBuckle2018

There is no charge for this Letter From Zimbabwe but if you would like to donate please visit my website. Until next time, thanks for reading this Letter From Zimbabwe now in its 21st year, and my books about life in Zimbabwe, a country in waiting, love cathy  12th November 2021. Copyright © Cathy Buckle. https://cathybuckle.co.zw/

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