Elephant History & Culture: Lines of Demarcation

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Elephant History & Culture: Lines of Demarcation. Considering that animals came first, are humans more like animals, or are animals more like humans?. History. Elephants were first captured and tamed in the Indus Valley about 4000 BC. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Elephant History & Culture

Elephant History & Culture: Lines of Demarcation

1Considering that animals came first, are humans more like animals, or are animals more like humans?

HistoryElephants were first captured and tamed in the Indus Valley about 4000 BC. Their enormous size and power were harnessed on the battlefield and recorded in Thai history. For instance, Porus, Emperor of India, used 85 elephants to confront Alexander the Great at the Battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC.The strength and intelligence of elephants has been used by people in huge construction projects such as the irrigation system on Sri Lanka.Elephants play an important role in both Hindu and Buddhist religions. Ganesh, the Hindu elephant God is revered as the remover of obstacles and Buddha often spoke about elephants and their image and characteristics as powerful metaphors. 3Elephant CultureIn An Elephant Crackup by Charles Siebert, elements of elephant culture were presented from research done on elephants in Uganda.

Before the onset of the research, elephants all over Africa, India, and parts of Southeast Asia, from within and around whatever patches and corridors of their natural habitat remain have been striking out, destroying villages and crops, and attacking and killing human beings.

The problem was becoming so commonplace that a new statistical category was created by elephant researchers in the mid 1990s to monitor the problem known as HEC or Human Elephant conflict.

Since the early 1990s, young male elephants in Pilanesberg National Park and the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game reserve in South Africa have even been raping and killing rhinoceros.

It turns out that like much like humans, elephants were reacting violently to the loss of their habitat, increased competition with humans for resources, and poaching.

Specifically the loss of elephant elders and the traumatic experience of witnessing the massacres of their family, impairs normal brain and behavior development in young elephants.

At the level of neuroscience, elephant trauma is seen by scientists and researchers to mar neuronal fields, snap synaptic bridges, and create chemical imbalances.

The unanswered questions left by the article were: What does this mean beyond science? How do we respond to the fact that we are causing other species like elephants to psychologically break down?

Elephant Family StructureElephants have a matriarchal head. The family will consist of an older matriarch, her (daughters usually about three or four of them) and their calves. Typical elephant family comprises 6-12 individual elephants but can expand to a larger group of 20. The family eventually splits depending on the herd. However, they reunite at watering holes and feeding spots with joy and celebration at seeing each other. When traveling in search of food the herd is led by the matriarch. Bulls stick to a bachelor (all-male) pod in which they live and travel. When a bull is ready to mate they search for an elephant cow and wait until she is ready to mount. Once mated, they return to the bachelor pod, having nothing to do with the rearing of the child.When the male calves in the herd reach adolescents they break away from the herd and from bachelor pods with their peers. Adolescent females stick to their main herd until adulthood. Like humans elephants are capable of forming special bonds with their friends and family members. They value their family structure more so than other animals and are naturally outgoing and sociable animals.

6Attributes shared by humans and elephants in The White Bone:The have social structure, and hierarchies, living in matrilineal family groups.They grieve over the death of their loved ones.They adopt orphaned elephants as She-Scares becomes Muds adoptive mother.The have keen memoriesThey have feelings, and the communication to transmit those feelings to each otherThey share the same need for basic necessities such as food, water, and protective shelterThey have ritual and customs: cultureThey survive and find ways to adapt to violence, as Mud survives an attack on her family by ivory poachersAre there any more shared attributes from The White Bone? Elephants in CaptivityCaptive elephants are tamed not domesticated. In the past they were sent off to war and were used for heavy logging and construction work, but the industrial revolution replaced them with machinery.Now, elephants are captured and/or kept in captivity for our entertainment. Around the world there exists between 15,000 -20,000 captive elephants.

I was captured in the wild, taken from my family; Now I live alone, in this small, dark pen.

You can read in my eyes,and in the color of my skin, thatI am sad, lonely and frightenedof those small, bad men. June 20098Elephants in Circuses Elephants are confined and chained for hours.Through physical punishment and the threat of its use, they are trained to pose in unnatural and difficult positions. They are moved in unbearable heat and below freezing temperatures from city to city chained in flatbed trucks and in boxcars.Calves are separated from their mothers at an early age for the purpose of training.Elephants are moved from their companions to be brought and sold and frequently moved about. Circus elephants have no level of autonomy over their lives to the extent where they are trained to defecate into a bucket on command.

9Elephants in Circuses (contd)http://vimeo.com/21489460This video clip released by Animal Defenders International, displays behind the scenes footage at the winter quarters of Bobby Roberts Super Circus. It shows graphic violence and confinement of circus animals. For example, Annie (Ann), an elderly, severely arthritic 57 year old elephant is seen being hit with a metal pitchfork and kicked around the face and body over 48 times over the period of observation by workers. 10Elephants in TV and FilmsTo ensure that the elephants perform consistently they are kept under the constant control of the handler who uses a steel-tipped device similar to a fire poker to jab and strike the elephants to action. Training is a violent affair that begins when elephants are still babies; it is life long and unrelenting, meant to force them into compliance and obedience.11Elephants in TV and Films (contd)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK27aknWVI4&feature=player_embeddedHow does this clip portray the way we treat elephants in todays world? Also, what capabilities do we seem to place upon animals?

12After reading the text, The White Bone, is there any absolute boundary or line of demarcation that can be drawn between animals and humans?

What boundaries between the human and the animal are depicted by the At&t cell phone ad that carefully places both elephant and electronic in India?

Why would Accenture, a fortune global 500 company use elephants to advertise their management, consulting firm?

What do these ads that objectify elephants say about the boundaries weve imposed between humans and animals?

Weve acknowledged elephants human-like qualities, but only insofar as to make them into more of a commodity. Thus, the source of the absolute boundaries that we try to create between humans and animals could be rooted in the fact that we are a consumer-driven, free market based economy motivated solely by profit and loss.

16The End!

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