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Tembo By Robert Bateman

By Robert Bateman

Tembo - Elephant by Robert Bateman

Elephants deserve the high stature they enjoy. We humans appreciate them not just for their impressive size, but also for their high order of intelligence and sophisticated social structure.

Unlike most animals, they care about each other’s welfare. Most herds are composed of adult females and young. When the juvenile males start to take too much interest in “the girls,” they are expelled form the herd and roam in loose bachelor groups that are much smaller in size than the family groups.

My family and I encountered one such bachelor group in a park in northeast Kenya. We were delighted and surprised to find several bulls with very large tusks. Frighteningly, this area is right within the range of organized gangs of poachers, particularly in Somalia. Although the park is patrolled against poaching, the rangers are too few in number and are usually out-gunned. Those tusks must be awfully tempting to the illicit ivory trade. We hoped the bulls we saw there would stay close to the tourist areas for safety. We, however, got too close to this fellow. Though his tusks were large, he was young and feisty and presented us with an impressive false charge.

He is “Tembo” in Swahili - a familiar term for elephant. I hope that he will live to a ripe old age and pass on his genes to future generations of elephants so future generations of humans can appreciate them. - Robert Bateman

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