Elephants do not have a choice about the impact of their existence. They destroy plants and trees for things that could be of benefit, trample water sources into muddy pools and create long winding trails that stamp out any form of growth. They do this so that they can function as elephants. They need to eat a large amounts to sustain their nutrition levels, they need to drink massive amounts in order to hydrate themselves and they need to wander so that they can continually find fertile new land on which to impact their change.
The change that elephants create however, leaves behind opportunity and the promise of renewal. A fallen tree will be fodder for termites, a home for squirrels and a perch for birds. The plant will be used and reused countless times. The seeds of fruit that was eaten will be digested and distributed so that new plants can grow and the cycle can continue.
Human beings are similar to elephants in many ways, particularly in that our existence also has a large impact on the earth. Like the elephant we eat large amounts, we utilize water for drinking, bathing and pleasure, and we trample new lands in our expansive wanderings. The key difference is that our change does not create opportunity, but rather takes it away.
Our change is to strip the bone bare and leave nothing more for the planet to utilize and rejuvenate from. Our land is farmed until there are no nutrients left, our rivers are dammed so that we can control the natural flow of water and our increasing urbanization is slowly trampling remaining pieces of natural wilderness.
Nature is the guiding light and the divine force in which all lessons can be learnt. To watch elephants enforce their change on the wild is to realize that each species functions a certain way. Some will have a light footprint, whilst others will be much heavier, but it is this diversity that allows the fluidity of nature to endure and for each to benefit from one another. The lesson for us humans is to realize that we too are massive agents for change by our very nature. It is however, the opportunities we create from that change that will determine how long we endure.
Written, filmed and photographed by: Rich Laburn