‘They also serve who only stand and wait’ – John Milton
As the year draws to an end, so does that of a great life. With sorrow we bid our farewell to Intwandamela. A bull we have followed for 18 years. His gentle nature left a mark on all who met him. I stroke his silky tusks as I have done during all his collaring operations, only this time they will no longer rise to sway from side to side as the great bull ambles off. I look at the tracks in the sand left by his companions who have stood over him, willing him to come back to life. There are tusk marks too as they have tried to lift him. He has taught them so much that I am sure they will miss his wisdom and his peaceful yet powerful presence. Do they know where to go without their mentor? Do they too feel lost? How often do they need to return to his bones to realise he is truly gone, or would they do so to pay respect? Elephants are sentient and I believe that they were there to comfort him. I place a little white flower on his weathered skin and look into the distance, wondering if all that knew this incredible animal will ever get used to how empty the veld feels without him. He represents so many great tuskers that have come and gone. May we fight to keep the emerging tuskers safe so that the passing of Intwandamela will not represent the end of a bygone era.
Kid with smiling face drawn on palms against blue sky, closeup
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