Review: BBC One – Attenborough and the Giant Elephant

An African elephant at home - photograph taken by Frederik Ahlefeldt-L-L

An African elephant at home – photograph taken by Frederik Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Lehn

This powerful documentary is about a giant and those who knew him. It is fascinating, sad … and so important to watch.

Sir David Attenborough is with us from start to finish. It is he who picks through the evidence to show us the life and times of Jumbo, the celebrity Victorian elephant.

Continue reading

The Sultan’s Elephant in London – a true story

This is about an elephant that came to the streets of London in search of a little girl. It happened in 2006 and I wrote about it in 2015. It’s a tale about wonder where you least expect it … and about the power of elephants.

The Phraser

The Sultan's Elephant in London ‘The Sultan’s Elephant’ by Royal de Luxe, produced in London in 2006 by Artichoke. Photo copyright Sophie Laslett.

It all began on one of those long weekends when no-one was looking.  To start with it was just an ordinary, empty day – too busy to see.

Then, suddenly, people started to hear things, they started to wonder … because … wasn’t that … did they really hear an elephant in London?

View original post 660 more words

Zimbabwe’s elephants – wanted dead or alive

This began as a reblog of an old post – it has turned into a new one about a situation that continues to haunt me … the on-going sale of Zimbabwe’s wild, young elephants to distant zoos and tourist parks.

The Phraser

Zimbabwe's elephants Zimbabwe’s elephants

Elephants, the big-eared nomads of Africa, are in trouble. They are squeezed for space, many are slain for ivory, and others are sold into captivity.

Zimbabwe, in southern Africa, is blessed with large herds of elephants, some of the happiest on the continent … but there is danger, both from poaching and live export. The elephants are up for sale and buyers are waiting.

View original post 923 more words

Baby elephants: made in Africa – exported to China

Today, some of Zimbabwe’s wild, young elephants face export to zoos in China. It was the same four years ago, in 2013. This is a reblog of a piece I wrote at the time, with links to recent Guardian reports on the situation today. Nothing much has changed.

The Phraser

Picture courtesy of China Zoo Watch Picture courtesy of China Zoo Watch

Wild baby elephants (Loxodonta africana africana), born amongst the acacias of Zimbabwe, are being sold to zoos in China by the Zimbabwean authorities.

In 2012 four baby elephants, one of whom is already dead, were transported to China and it is believed that more are due to follow shortly.

View original post 326 more words

Book review: Wild is Life – Reaching out (by Sally Carney)

Wild is Life by Sally Carney

Front cover of Wild is Life by Sally Carney

Wild is Life – Reaching Out is about an animal sanctuary that has grown out of the turmoil that swept through Zimbabwe a few years before the millennium.

It is an inspiring, intimate photographic record of a home-made haven that started small – mongoose size – and then stretched. By the end of the book it is giraffe high … and the elephants have come.

Continue reading

Update: Zimbabwe’s wild-born elephants flown to China

A baby elephant and family

“… But there was one Elephant–a new Elephant–an Elephant’s Child–who was full of ‘satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions. And he lived in Africa, and he filled all Africa with his ‘satiable curiosities …”
(Rudyard Kipling’s ‘ The Elephant’s Child’)

A deal has been done – a sale has been agreed and the animals delivered … but not everyone is happy. The animals sold are young, wild-born Zimbabwean elephants, and the buyer is China.

Zimbabwe is selling not just the family jewels, it’s selling family.  It is exporting them as though they were goods, to a remote land that has little experience of the needs of this great, intelligent species.

Continue reading

An elephant, a bird, and an offer

Carved elephant

An irresistible elephant

I wasn’t looking for any of the above but somehow they found me.  That’s what Naples does.

My elephant – she’s now mine – spent days for sale on the steep, wintery steps outside the huge post office near the city centre.

I passed her twice a week en route to class.  It was hard to miss her.  My head was full of elephants and there she was, big and awkward in amongst the trinkets and faded pictures.

Then yesterday, on an impulse, I roped together my Italian and my courage, and paused.

Continue reading