Imagine living in a country where you have heard about the giant animal called an elephant. An animal bigger than a car, bigger than a house, bigger than a desert boulder. A giant that can outrun you and can crush you in one step. A giant that our parents, our grandparents and great grandparents have talked about. That’s what most of us children of Africa are raised being told about elephants. We are raised with fear of elephants.

Then one day in school, we are taken on a surprise trip to the game reserve. We get to see the elephant. We are in awe! We are totally amazed at how gentle this animal is. It’s still amazingly big. Actually, bigger than anyone has described. While on this trip, we are taught about the elephants. Elephants, too, get nervous just like humans. They get angry when provoked, they get frustrated when they are hungry and chased from the farms that were once their migratory paths. And most of all, they are afraid of humans because they see humans killing their kind.

The biggest lesson we learn is that elephants never forget.

Save The Elephants is not only about research, tracking and monitoring the elephants. They also do a great deal to educate the communities about human and wildlife coexistence around the elephants’ paths and reserves. The organization uses geofencing which gives alerts on real time to the STE teams when the elephants go out of their borders or break fences. This activity helps the teams mobilize and move them back to their protected and safe areas. STE also helps communities set up beehive fences. Beehive fencing helps keep the elephants away and creates a source of income for the communities.

STE has also embarked on an education program by taking children to game reserves, teaching the importance of the elephants in our world and the need to protect them. They also offer sponsorships to children in the community and have seen great success with these children going all the way to university. These children will be the future ambassadors of protection of elephants.

Partnering with Save the Elephants has great impact to everyone in the community. From the young child, to the adult and to the entire world.

This post is written by Elephant Cooperation’s Field Team Member, Suzzi Helfer, as a reflection on her first to Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual. 

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