“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make” – Jane Goodall
The baby elephant’s leg had severe necrosis, rotting of the upper left leg. He could barely put any pressure on it and consequently hobbled behind the herd, trying his utter best to keep up. The first time I saw this little creature earnestly catching up to its mother, tears instantly welled. The wrinkled, wobbly frame seemed so uncomfortable and spending more time trying to catch up then feeding, it was definitely malnourished. I became so concerned about this elephant that I would go out on drive and purposefully track herds in hopes of checking if he was okay. In fact other rangers would radio me whenever they saw it just to keep me updated!
Then one day something magic happened. It started with the usual hobbling figure trailing behind the herd and as the elephants graceful grey shapes entered the river my concern spiked. Yet against all odds, the herd emerged on the other side and the baby elephant with the gammy leg followed suite. Yet the bank on the other side was too steep for the youngster to continue. While most of the herd was already disappearing over the ridge, the baby kept slipping back down the bank. Just when I thought hope was lost the little ones mother circled back towards the river. With her back legs she started to dig into the side of the bank, slowly altering the gradient. Once she had finished, she gently wrapped her trunk under the youngster’s belly and together made their way up the bank towards the rest of the herd.
It has been one of the most moving sightings I have had the privilege of viewing and in that moment, it epitomised for me the true magic of Mother Nature. The maternal instinct to nourish and care that we witness in the animal kingdom and that we experience from our own mothers is merely a reflection of the greater essence of Mother Nature. She can be harsh, but she is balanced and fair.
Today is a reminder of this. A reminder that we do not hold the earth – she holds us. She holds every drop of water on which we depend. She holds the trees and the oxygen they provide. She holds every bit of nourishment we put into our bodies. She holds the very ecosystem of which we are a part and depend on as humans. Our Mother Earth gives us the most essential elements for our continued survival.
While today we celebrate our mothers and all the wonderful things they do for us, we implore you to broaden your love. Be thankful for our home. For, without Mother Nature we would not be.
Written and photographed by: Andrea Campbell