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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What’s that “60” on your profile picture mean?

I can’t tell you how many people have asked me that question...
Everytime i hear it, i shed a silent tear...
“60”... just a number, yet for me, a symbol of strength, courage, failure, perseverance, suffering, love, magnificence, torture, and so much more...
I remember waking up in the morning, excited to be packing my supplies for rukinga, where I volunteer for wildlife works regularly on their anti-poaching patrols and desnaring activites.
I got my menu sorted, checked my sunblock and toothbrush (the things I ALWAYS seem to leave behind! ), and started loading everything in the car. Throught the entire busride, I couldn’t stop thinking of what I would encounter this time, every time is different, some days are quiet, some days, are unbelievably eventful... I slept the rest of the way.
I arrived in rukinga later that night, and was greeted by one of the staff, I couldn’t sleep without getting an update first; I had been told about the rise in poaching in that area, especially elephant poaching, and Taita was one of the regions badly affected.
A few minutes into a talk about recoveries, arrests and poachers, I was told about an elephant in Taita... I remember those exact words as if I heard them just this morning, “The rangers found this one elephant with sixty bullets in her chest. She must have charged at them in defense.”... :’(
I had heard enough, I went to my sleeping quarter, and I was so deeply hurt, I couldn’t stop crying, so I borrowed my little brother’s mobile, and got onto facebook, writing to Jude Price and Kerstin Bucher:
February 25 at 10:57pm
hi kerstin and jude.. My heart is heavy as i write to you tonight :'( it is past midnight and i am unable to sleep. I am using my brothers phone, its his first time out here and i brought another volunteer friend of mine so my original field posting was changed for security reasons. I am crying as i write so forgive me if i'm unclear, i need to let this out and you both were the only i would like to talk to. I arrived earlier today and as alwys caught up with the team. The poachers who set their dens in the caves in my last album were caught. But, now there are others who have taken down over 30 eles in the last month. The team say, they found one ele with 60 bullets in her chest :,( she must have tried to charge them in defence :( my heart is weak tonight :( please kerstin, jude, pray for the eles in taita area :,( poachers are gunning into whole herds :( its worse than i thought :( i must quit my job soon :,( i will share more details when i'm back. I leave for another area at first light and will have no network. :( thank you both for your strength for elephants.. in hope and tears ...

I remember the ache in my heart while i wrote... there are no words that can describe it...
All I know, is that I cannot stop thinking of her, I see her in my dreams, I see her roaming the vast land with her herd, and then, I see her fall...
I hear the shots every night, as though I were there; and then, I see her fall...
I see the red soil form dust clouds under her feet as she charges to defend her own life, her family...
I hear those shots... and then, I see her fall...
In one final cloud of red dust... she is gone.
Who will remember her? Who will tell her story?
She never had a collar, she never had a name, she’s “just another elephant”...
But to me, she is “60”...

3 comments:

  1. It is so saddening and heart breaking to know that such magnificent creatures are subjected to defending themselves - their lives, and the lives of their families - just because of human greed for ivory, or for sport. I am crying with you Raabia, for no animal on this earth deserves such an act of barbaric selfishness. I am so sorry that you have to hear what you hear, but in order to help sometimes the bad must be heard, so that something good can happen. You are that good Raabia, and by going out into the bush to de-snare it, you are saving lives of animals that would not have even suspected how close they came to death. Keep strong, stay brave and true, because every cause needs a fighter.

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  2. take care! Press on!

    I will pray for you and the elephants!!

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  3. Raabia Elephant Defender and strong courageous soul, I am so glad you Stand for 60, for all the elephants losing the war. This genocide for Bling. I stand with you and thank you for the love and care for one elephant lost, for all elephants lost. keep on Keeping on...

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