|Mali in the Manila Zoo|
But Man has also continually persecuted elephants for his own use and sometimes, tragically, his amusement.
Hannibal used elephants as a weapon in war. When he invaded Italy he started from Spain with 35, unfortunately after his crossing of the inhospitably cold Alps he had only nine left because they died of the cold.
Circuses have been at the top of the list for continual mistreatment of elephants.
Former employees of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus have told about them being swatted painfully with sharp bullhooks to discipline them. And many of them are hobbled with chains 90% of their lives. There are so many instances of circus elephant abuse that it would take a huge tome to list them all.
Zoos keep them in steel cages where they have hardly enough room to turn around. This is an animal that walks hundreds of miles in it's free life, held in solitary confinement for our use? And they suffer from a form of mental illness called Zoochosis, and tuberculosis, foot problems, arthritus and of course, premature death.
There was an instance of Ayed, having her heels cut so she would have to kneal! And Mary, who had killed a drifter who the Charlie Sparks Traveling Show had mistakenly hired as a trainer, was actually hung from a railway car derrick after shooting her by several people had little effect. Circuses have videotaped abuse to elephants in order to show new trainers how to do it! And there are so many cases of beatings and torture of elephants it is near impossible to document them all.
Topsy was apparently mishandled and tortured by her handlers on Coney Island. After she had killed 3 of her handlers in 3 years (one of whom died after attempting to feed her a lit cigarette) it was decreed that she must be put down. Thomas Edison volunteered to electrocute her for his own bizarre reasons and even laced her carrots with potassium cyanide! Then made a movie of the event.
Man's cruelty knows no bounds.
Poachers continue to devastate elephant herds in Africa for their ivory. Often extracting the tusks while the creature is still alive!
My own method of ending this poaching of elephant ivory goes way beyond legal means which often has little effect because the sentencing is minimal. I would capture the poachers, stake them with chains, arm and legs, in the plains in hyena country. Put a camera nearby to record the event and leave him overnight. Once the camera documented the horrific fate of the poacher from hungry hyenas, I would broadcast that punishment for all potential poachers to see. Cruel? Yes, but a means to an end.
The fate of the Bengal Tiger, various Asian bears and elephants is in doubt along with many other species that Man has dominion over. But it is up to us to make the product of this poaching and destruction of our greatest creatures repugnant and uncivilized. Wearing ivory, or using bear paws and galls, or consuming tiger parts doesn't enhance your sexual prowess, intelligence nor bravory, it only places you in the position of being inferior. A sub human. The passenger pidgeon is extinct today because of the sole reason that it was fun to shoot them.
Keeping a solitary elephant in a small cage for our amusement only because we can, is ultimate cruelty. We need to show respect for our fellow creatures, we don't own the planet, we just live here. Along with elephants. Where is that value I mentioned? It is in enriching our spirit by caring for them and having them safe and healthy and sharing the Earth.
Cruetly to an animal as magestic as an elephant, is unforgiveable.
Indifference is worse. Be heard.
PAWS - Performing Animal Welfare Society
The elephant sanctuary in Tennessee - http://www.elephants.com/