‘ Age of wisdom – African bull elephant ’
Pastel on Supertooth paper
40 X62 cm.
An African bull elephant may live up to 70 years and during his lifetime he will learn and also teach much. An adult male teaches the young males how to behave with respect and will often form very long partnerships with a younger male (or males) in company as companions and protectors.
It is clear that young males learn about life from their elders. So, when poachers target the largest and grandest old males, it doesn't just shrink the population. It also means the loss of the old tusker's wisdom and influence on the next generation.
According to elephant biologist Joyce Poole, when an older male wants to spar with a younger male, they will often get down on their knees. She says this is a great example of elephant understanding and empathy. If a 6-ton male elephant can have empathy and get down on his knees to play with the youngsters, perhaps it's time for us to give a little more credit to the nuanced relationships of these friendly giants.
American comedian Bill Murray says, “They tell you an elephant never forgets but what they don’t tell you is you never forget an elephant!”