The helicopter descends down over the fleeing herd of
elephants. The dart is expertly fired into the rump of the 2 year old
calf. The helicopter pulls back to observe the darted calf.
The M99 coursing through his veins, slows the calf to
a walk. His mother and sister turn back, trumpeting, urging him to run.
The calf stops, swaying from side to side. His mother
runs to support him on the one side, his sister on the other.
The elephant cow grabs the dart still embedded in the
calf and with a scream hurls it into the bush. The calf half falls, but
his mother and sister lift him up.
The mother elephant extracts water from her stomach
and sprays the water into the calf's face. (elephants are the only
animal that I know of, that can physically extract water from their
The calf falls and his mother immediately tries to
lift him, but this time his legs are gone, his consciousness fading.
The helicopter moves in to scare off the elephant
mother and sister. His sister runs for her life, but the mother wont
leave the calf, she is too closely bonded.
The helicopter turns for a second attempt, the cow
slips under the chopper, trying to grab the skid with her trunk, trying
to pull the helicopter out of the sky. The helicopter turns for a third
time and this time the cow leaves her calf and runs after the herd.
As she runs, I see the dark stain down her temporal
gland. Is this from the stress or are those tears flowing from her eyes,
I have just witnessed one of the most intelligent
animals on his planet trying everything she knows to prevent human
beings stealing her calf from her.
Later we would airlift young calves underneath the
helicopter and project the images across the world on a program called
ABC Sports Wild World of Sports.
The press heralded us as great creative
conservationists. We were saving baby elephants that would have been
culled. The year was 1978. Th place was Kruger National Park South
The following year the price of the elephants calves
had doubled because now Kruger Park was selling to international zoos
and circuses. (Kruger Park had a policy that the elephant population
should be held at 7 000 elephants. Ten percent would be culled annually,
the ivory would be sold on the international markets and the meat
processed in a factory situated in Kruger Park).
Today, 35 years later, the situation is very, very
We know that elephant cows that have lost their
calves, grieve for long periods of time. The trauma and pain is extreme,
easily on par with a human mother that has lost a young child.
We know that conditions in zoos and circuses are
totally unacceptable for a large, social animal like an elephant.
We know that elephants calves separated at a young
age will suffer irreparable trauma and social imbalances in later life.
Therefore the decision for Zimbabwe to sell 30
elephant calves to China (the deal is actually 200 elephant calves) is
barbaric, cruel and unethical.
In all the countries I have filmed, China is by far
the most cruel. I have seen dogs thrown into tiger pens, while Chinese
bet to see which tiger will catch the dogs.
I have seen bears in cages so small, they cannot turn
around, while the Chinese extract the bile from the gall bladder.
I have seen cruelty in China so shocking that I could
not pick up my camera and record what was in front of my eyes.
The Zimbabwe Government knows about this cruelty and
yet they still go ahead and sell 30 elephant calves to China. The
Zimbabweans will pay dearly for this act, of this I have no doubt.
Nature works in strange ways. Some people call it "karma".
Tread lightly on the Earth
PS. In a fit of anger, I called for a boycott on
visiting Zimbabwe. However in retrospect, why should innocent
Zimbabweans suffer because of the greed and cruelty of their government.
Therefore I retract this statement and encourage people to visit
Zimbabwe, beautiful country that it is.
Canned Lion Hunting
The film "Blood Lions" has again brought into focus
the cruel, unethical practice of trophy hunting of captive bred lions in
South Africa. Thirty years ago this barbaric practice was started in the
province of the Free State.
Neither the Apartheid Government nor the ANC
Government have done anything to stop canned lion hunting. Both these
governments have more than enough power to eliminate canned lion hunting
and they have done nothing!
South Africa as a nation ranks alongside China as
extremely cruel. Some of our farming practices, our canned lion and
tiger industry and some of the zoos that are allowed to operate in South
Africa, are barbaric!
However the animal activists that have fought long
and hard to have canned lion hunting banned forever, need to think the
problem right through.
Let us say they are successful in getting canned lion
hunting outlawed. They would be signing the death warrant on some 7 000
The ruthless people that breed lions for the canned
lion industry, have no emotional attachment to those lions. A lion is an
extremely expensive animal to keep alive. Once the breeder has no
market, they will eliminate those lions and they will do it quickly.
There is nowhere for these lions to go. No zoos, no game ranches, no
game reserves. They become an instant liability.
Here in South Africa, many areas which have failed
economically and agriculturally, have suitable habitat for lions.
However, these areas need to be bought, fenced, and stocked with game
before the lions can be released. This takes millions of dollars and it
takes time. I know, I have been doing it for the last 15 years of my
One minister described "the canned lion industry as a
cancer". Perhaps the cancer has spread too far for it to be cured.
However one thing is certain, if canned lion hunting
is allowed to continue, lions die. If it is outlawed, lions die!
Tread lightly on the Earth