“What is your name, my son?”
“My name is Philip, my Lord. Man calls me Tembo, the elephant.”
“Where do you come from, my son Philip? You do not look like your cousins from here.”
“I was born in Tsavo my Lord Buddha. In what Man calls Africa. My family was born here for thousands and thousands of years. Long before Man was born in Olduvai, in Tanzania, to the Southwest.”
“And why are you here, Philip?”
“Man is decimating my people. Only a few years ago, we were millions, grazing peacefully in what was the cradle of mankind. Even the mighty lion stayed away from us. We bothered no-one and no-one bothered us. Those days are over. Now man comes at us with machine guns. Snares. Any kind of weapon. All for our tusks. They don’t even eat our meat. They live us rotting in the bush once they’ve sawed their precious ivory.”
“Man can be kind, my son. But most are stupid. They have no control over their emotions. Now? Greed is taking over their world. Unless they start slaughtering each other again, and forget about you, there isn’t much that can be done.”
“So there is no hope, then?”
“There is always hope, my son Philip. Hope that kindness will prevail over madness. But madness is strong. So, for now, hide away. Leave the savannah, hide in the forest, and wait.”
I had very different plans for this post. The idea was to post a revisit of my Angkor Thom Buddhas separately from the elephant. I was working on shadows. Shadows are difficult. Almost as difficult as eyes. You may notice two techniques on the buddhas. First criss cross shadows, using a simple Sheaffer fountain pen with black ink. Since I started sketching again this pen has proved very good. The last two sketches are using a combination pen and China ink with brush. China ink is what we call it in French, I believe in English it is called India ink. China. India. All the same from a Westerner’s perspective, right? 🙂 Whatever it’s called it does provide for quite a different effect. I like both actually. Which do you prefer?
And Philip the elephant? The name and story just came to my head this morning at breakfast. I had planned something different about Tsavo and David Sheldrick the Chief warden there, in the 50’s and 60’s who initiated wildlife preservation. But the new story came rushing in, and as often, the stories that come flying into my head, are complete to the word. I am just typing it for you. (Am I hearing voices? Maybe. I’ll get therapy). The reddish watercolour tone? The earth in Tsavo is red. Elephants cover themselves with dust, or earth to keep the bugs away. So the elephants in Tsavo are red.
I have done several posts on elephants before. Here a few links:
There are more posts. If you are interested in the topic, just type “elephant” in the search function.
To end on a not so hopeful note, Botswana had a growing population of elephants, close to 160,000, due to very strong protection measures for many years. Which proves it can be done. Now, the new president of Botswana, whatever his name is, has authorised hunting elephants. The article I read says he is close to the agricultural lobbies. Lobbies in freakin’ Botswana? Greed I tell you.