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What Happened to the Elephants?

A haunting story that our grandchildren may be reading one day on the fate of the elephant in the future. A possible question that is posed from child to parent about what happened to elephants. Although, this is just one possible path for the future it is still arresting. The sadness of this is all too apparent and fits well with Jeanette Winterson´s quote "Why is the measure of love loss?". One of the reasons for this article is to stop the senseless loss and to educate people about another possible future. Please read the article even though it is sad.

What Happened To The Elephants?
By: Adrian Barnett

Once upon a time, in a country not very far away, called Africa, there were herds of enormous animals called Elephants. Elephants were very very big. They were grey, had four legs and thick leathery skin like the bark of a tree. They had large ears they could flap to keep cool, two huge teeth sticking out of their mouths, which were called tusks, each one could be as long as you are tall. The tusks were made out of a type of bone called ivory.

Best of all, elephants had trunks. The elephants trunk was just it's nose, but it was long and strong and bendable, and the elephant used it's trunk like an arm. It could pick food up to eat, or reach up into the trees for juicy leaves with it's trunk. The tip of the trunk was as delicate and sensitive as your fingers, and it could use it much like you use for hand. There are some other creatures that have a sort of trunk, but none are as useful as that of the elephant.

Now, the elephants lived a peaceful life, wandering about the open plains, and through the bushes. They could push down large trees if they wanted, as they were very strong. Not many animals bothered them, as they were the biggest of all the animals. Then one day, some people discovered that elephant tusks, made of ivory, were good for carving into pretty ornaments and jewelry, and started gathering bits of broken tusks, or tusks from dead elephants, and carefully making pretty things from them.

After a while, people from far away countries discovered these ivory carvings and thought that they were very beautiful, because they were. More and more people wanted to buy ivory carvings, which meant that they needed more tusks to get the ivory. So they decided that the elephants' ivory tusks were more important than the elephants that owned the tusks. They started to go to Africa to find elephants. When they found the elephants they killed them. They killed the elephants to take their ivory tusks away to make into pretty ornaments.

Elephants only grow tusks when they are old, baby elephants don't have tusks, just like our babies don't have teeth at first. This meant that the ivory collectors only killed the grown-up elephants, and the young elephants were left alone. Without grown-ups to look after them, the young elephants would die, either because they couldn't find food, or because they had no protection from lions and hyenas, and all the other things that like to eat baby elephants.

This didn't really matter much to start with ( except to the elephants, who didn't like it much ), as there were so many elephants tromping about, eating leaves and knocking down trees and drinking from rivers. But as the years went by, the numbers of elephants became less and less, because grown-up elephants were killed for their tusks, and baby elephants died because they were on their own, so they didn't grow up to have baby elephants themselves. Because there were less elephants about, that meant there was less ivory to make things from, and so it cost more and more to buy ivory as it became more and more rare. This meant that the people killing the elephants got richer and richer, and so they wanted even more ivory so that they would get more money, and so they started killing even more elephants for the ivory in their tusks.

When elephants found the dry, white bones of other elephants, they would pick them up carefully with their trunks and look at them. They knew that the bones were elephant bones. Some were the bones of grown-up elephants, and some were the bones of baby elephants. Sometimes they took the bones away into the trees. If they found tusks that the hunters had left behind, the elephants would take the big tusks and smash them hard against the ground to break them.

And so it went on. The less ivory there was, the more money the hunters got for it, and the more money they got, the more they wanted to kill elephants to get ivory. The elephants were killed until none were left. There were still some elephants in zoos, but they weren't very happy elephants, as they couldn't wander about for miles and miles, knocking things over and eating leaves, which is what they liked best, and so not many baby elephants were born. As the zoo elephants got old, they died, until only one elephant was left, in just one zoo. The last elephant in the world. Boys and girls came to see the last elephant, to look at it's trunk and it's tusks and it's big floppy ears. The elephant was sad because it was all alone. It had people friends, but no elephant friends. When it got old it died and then there were no more elephants ever again.

The people who had killed the elephants didn't mind, because they had all the money they made from selling ivory, and the people who bought the tusks didn't mind, because they had pretty things made from ivory to wear and look at and show to their friends. The elephants were killed until none were left.

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