In light of the recent news about elephant trophy hunting I thought it was best to voice my opinion in pictures instead of words. While on a safari in Malawi, we came upon this herd of elephants. And there, right in front of us, we saw something that will stay with me forever: two elephants entwining their trunks around each other’s. They do this as a greeting, sort of a “Hey, how are you? So good to see you! It’s been a long time, what have you been up to?” And sometimes they do it as part of a courtship thing: “Hey, you’re quite lovely. I’d like to get to know you some more …”
When I saw this my heart became so full. Such beautiful majestic creatures.
And now, with the elephant population finally increasing in Malawi, there have been more tourists coming in to visit their wildlife reserves. Nobody comes to Africa because they want to see a headless carcass of an elephant. No one.
I love Africa. Where else in the world can you sit back and enjoy your morning tea while watching a troop of monkeys leaping through the trees?
It was day four of our safari and my husband and I were setting off on another day of adventure. We finished our breakfast and with packsacks and water bottles in hand we went to meet our trusty guide and driver Ben from Great Lake Safaris. That’s when I spied the basket of bananas at the buffet table.
I grabbed a bunch, stuck them in my packsack and followed Gary to the parking lot and lo’ and behold there was a troop of vervet monkeys playing in the trees near the jeep. I reached into my packsack, pulled out the bananas and was instantly surrounded.
Big guys, little guys, sweet little mommas with their babies clinging to their bellies - all of them reaching out their hands, looking at me with those sweet adorable cute brown eyes. My heart melted.
I peeled the bananas then gave little pieces to each of them. And they took them ever so gently, their soft velvety hands brushing against mine for a brief moment. I was in love.
The manager of the hotel laughed.
“Eeh! You love to feed the monkey, lady! Look at the smile on your face! The monkey, they are happy happy!” Then he called out to a girl, “Go, get the lady some more banana so she can feed the monkey!”
The girl rushed off and quickly returned with a plate laden with the yellow fruit. And, before I knew it, I was surrounded by even more monkeys.
Within minutes the bananas were gone and the troop of monkeys went back to their trees and I was all alone. I wanted to believe that we had formed a special bond and they would take me in as one of their own and I would spend the day with them, frolicking in the trees but alas, this was not to happen. I was merely another tourist, another soft hearted lady who wanted to feed the monkeys. Sigh.
We hoped in our jeep and headed off. And I watched them play and listened to their screeching voices until we found the main road and left them far behind.
To this day I can still feel the soft touch of their velvety fingers on my hand. It makes me smile. And although I was only seen as a food source, I think that perhaps, for a brief moment, those monkeys and I connected. Maybe they saw some goodness in my eyes and knew that in an instant I would give up my human ways so I could be one of them.
I doubt it, but I’m going to hold onto that thought anyways. It makes me happy happy.
My journey as an author, giving voice to child soldiers.