By Michelle Henley
It is the complexity of elephant society that has always fascinated me. Even amongst the herds that don’t see each other often, there is a connection along some lineage which will lead to joy upon a reunion. These invisible bonds make for a harmonious society. There are six tiers to elephant society. The first is represented by the mother-calf unit. The second tier is comprised of the matriarch and her relatives within a family followed by the third tier representing the bond or kinship lines between groups. Thereafter the fourth tier is formed by clans of various families that come together on occasion. The final tiers are represented by the subpopulation and ultimately the population.
With gratitude to Dr. Hannah Mumby and her sister Alice, our elephant clan now extends to the east. Hannah, a Post-Doctoral fellow from Cambridge University, is collaborating with Elephants Alive to look at the sociality amongst bulls. Her sister is a school teacher at South Island School in Hong Kong. Alice Mumby and her bond group made up of Fiona Henderson (Art Teacher) and Victor Apps (Fraud expert at HSBC) have got their students to make elephant stickers, host a ‘pin the tail on the elephant’ event and hike all day to complete 15km to raise funds for us! With these funds, we have already bought a brand new top of the range GPS for us to find our pachyderm families when doing field work in the APNR. We are touched by their latest project at South Island School: a print-based art project making wrapping paper, tags and cards. The prints are inspired by nature and include exquisite elephant and leaf designs.
We recently attended the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) where presented data shows that he have lost approximately 114 000 elephants or 30% of the continental population in the last seven years due to illegal poaching. The demand for ivory is being fueled by China and Japan. Having a group of students coming from the East and supporting elephants with all their efforts has incredible educational value. We are very grateful to Hannah, Alice, Fiona and Victor for leading and introducing a new clan to us. Although you are far away, you have become part of our pachyderm-protection-population. Anyone interested in ordering any of the beautiful cards, wrapping paper or calendars from these inspiring students, can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. 50% of the proceeds will go towards Elephants Alive.