Filed under: Change Caravan, Stop climate change, Thailand | Tags: Biodiversity, change caravan, Climate Change, elephants, forest protection, Global Warming, Obama, un copenhagen climate summit
13 September 2009
I have walked for many causes in the past.
Inspired by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, I walked with people of the Narmada valley in India who were opposing the hugely controversial Sardar Sarovar dam, that has wiped out the lives and livelihoods of thousands while delivering very little to those who were supposed to benefit from it.
Moved by the never-say-die attitude of the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster, I have walked with them many times in their campaign to seek justice from the American multinational, Dow chemicals. This December 4th will be the 25th anniversary of the disaster and one of the longest running people’s struggle.
A few years ago, on call from Mitras, I walked with the students, teachers and parents of Centre for learning school near Bangalore, to raise awareness and funds to install renewable energy systems at the school premises to enable its transition to a carbon-neutral campus.
Not surprisingly, today I discovered that walking with Elephants is altogether a different ball game, despite its exotic and excitement value.
For one, the elephants change pace according to the food available along the way. They are constantly stopping to feed off the grasses, plants and wild ginger that they encounter growing along the way.
Considering the enormous ceremonial breakfast they had before they sauntered out this morning, I was wondering if they were demonstrating classic human behaviour – greed and gluttony.
But my misgivings were quickly corrected by one of our mahouts. Apparently elephants eat for as long as 18 hours a day and during the course of a year, they consume as many as 200 different plant species.
The other discovery of course, was the elephant’s affinity for water. Along the route, if we encountered a water body, whether it was a lake, a rivulet or even a bucket of water. Our elephants nonchalantly ignored the small group of people leading them, and headed off to the water, to spray themselves.
Not surprising at all. The elephant’s closest living relatives are aquatic mammals, the manatees and the dugongs, which explains the natural affinity of elephants to water.
Elephants are superb swimmers and have known to colonise islands in the Andamans by swimming across the open ocean.
We walked 12 kms today and despite the heat and humidity, all of us are in good spirits. Singing songs, clapping and marching together and watching the antics of our great friends and fellow travelers, the elephants, it all seemed very easy.
More excitement awaits tomorrow, when the elephants get a treat, a swim in the river and all of us, greenpeace activists, volunteers and friends are looking forward to hearing stories about climate change from the people we meet along the way and collect more and more petitions to Obama to intervene. If you have not signed your petition yet. Click here.
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