Hi there! This is the first time I’m sharing my first biggish project on my blog and I’m pretty excited about it. I normally hold myself back from sharing any project that I’m working on – and currently I’m working on 2 and starting with another, yes I like juggling between options to keep myself going – fearing I might not be good at it or won’t be able to complete it or it won’t have the desired outcome. But I’m trying to convince myself that
1. I can do it because I just know it, I can see and appreciate how far I’ve come and the self-doubting side of me can acknowledge it too and
2. that even if I’m not able to take the projects to their respective desired destinations, it becomes more of a reason to share it with anyone who needs to know that it’s okay!
An Oops is better than A What If, right?Tweet
So! One of the projects I’m working on is a story/storybook which is based on a beautiful & brave baby elephant named May <3
I’m not sure when did I start working on it but it just happened fluidly and that’s how I best enjoy it! What were the challenges though? EVERYTHING! I had never drawn elephants before this, never really written a story as such, had so much to know about elephant nature and behaviour but I just jumped right in. It’s a learn on the job situation and I’m enjoying the process.
One of the things I did was take an online class by Aaron Blaise – the artist who created and designed Nala from the original Lion King – on how to draw elephants. And these are some sketches I did –
My love for Elephants isn’t recent but it’s definitely increased and intensified now and I feel extremely passionately for them. It breaks my heart to admit that we’ve inflicted a tremendous amount of pain on them over the course of our existence – for tourism & entertainment; for jewellery and house decor and for our lack of understanding and ability to co-exist.
If you search for how many elephants remain and more particularly how many elephants are killed each day, this is what you’ll find –
“An estimated 100 African elephants are killed each day by poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts, leaving only 400,000 remaining. An insatiable lust for ivory products in the Asian market makes the illegal ivory trade extremely profitable, and has led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants.”Tweet
I’ve come to understand that a lot of us grow up to be detached from animals, grow up to think that they are nothing in front of the human race and don’t deserve even the basic right to live in freedom like we do. And what leads to such a faulty conscious is the education we received, some aspects of which I take the liberty to call brainwashing – Cows “provide” us milk; sheep “provide” us wool. We’ve repeated this to ourselves for so long that it’s become normal to see any animal being killed for our sake.
No one, no animal is here for us. Everyone, every animal is here with us. They don’t owe us anything. If anything, we owe them their livelihood back, we owe them respect and we owe them empathy and actions to right a lot of wrongs. #coexistTweet
Here are some elephants facts for you to understand them a little as living, breathing, sentient beings –
- Elephants are the world’s largest land mammals – and, aside from the great apes (humans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans) – the most intelligent. – Discover wildlife
- They are a matriarchal social group
- Just as Humans are left-handed or right-handed, Elephants are known to use one tusk more than the other. – Discover wildlife
- Similar to our hands, Tusks have multiple purposes for an Elephant.
- If we let them live freely in the wild, African Elephants can live upto 70 years and Asian Elephants upto 50.
- Like Humans, Elephants live in groups commonly called Herds and feel emotions like sad and lonely without their family and friends. Yes, they are known to make friends – “stranger” elephants are allowed to become part of a herd once their trust is formed.
- Elephants are self-aware; they can recognise themselves in Mirrors.
- Elephants have one of the longest known gestations of any animal. African elephants have a gestation period of 22 months, while Asian elephants have a gestation period of 18-22 months. Elephants will typically only give birth two or three times in a decade, and young elephants may suckle for a few years. – Discover wildlife
And during their pregnancy, their family members are known to provide love and comfort; they caress using their trunks on sensing any discomfort.
- As in all young mammals, an elephant calf’s sucking reflex, which prompts it to drink from its mother’s breast, is strong. And when a youngster is not feeding, it may suck its trunk for comfort, just as a human baby would suck its thumb. – Discover wildlife
- Trunks contain about 50,000 individual muscle units. A young calf has a brain complex and intelligent enough for them to learn how to control and master it with regular practice and experiments.
- Elephants are known to feel and show emotions like – sadness, joy, love, jealousy, fury, grief, compassion and distress. Perhaps, more intensely than humans.
- They can empathise. Elephants appear to understand what other elephants are feeling. Experiments show that when one elephant is unhappy, others share their feelings, something known as ‘emotional contagion’. In these situations, they will go over to their ‘friend’ and comfort them, often by putting their trunk into the other’s mouth, something that elephants find reassuring. Elephants will also assist other injured elephants, and even appear to mourn their dead. – Discover wildlife
- Elephants have a sharper memory than an average human. They are known to survive epic natural calamities using the knowledge passed on from one generation to the other. They are perhaps the biggest factor for an ecosystem to survive a disaster.
- Elephants are exceptionally smart creatures. They have the largest brain of any land animal, and three times as many neurons as humans. While many of these neurons exist to control the elephant’s large and dexterous body, these creatures have demonstrated their impressive mental capabilities time and time again.
Honestly, I can go and on about this to emphasis how important it is for us to unlearn backward and misleading notions about animals in general, and Elephants in particular. Having said that we’re responsible for ripping their families apart for our greed, I also believe that we have it in our hands to save them. We, as educated consumers, can and should change the world and every single of us matters. If we stop demanding ivory and products made of ivory, if stop demanding elephants to perform for us, to give us rides through a plantation or a jungle or to a fort, we can save the species from its extinction. Without elephants, the ecosystem is likely to collapse. You may not love these animals the way I do, and you don’t even have to.
We don’t need to love someone or be friends with someone to know that it’s wrong to hurt them.Tweet
My aim with the book I’m writing about is to provide some insight to an elephant’s life and their struggles that stem out of our wrong choices. Elephants, like many animals, are beautiful beings. See them from my eyes and maybe you’ll feel the love too <3
This brings us to end of this blog, definitely more to come, but before that, here’s the first time I painted May. She’s all grown up here, and it was this day she told me her story. I can’t wait to share it with you!
I’d love to make this an interactive story building, so if you have any suggestions about what adventures May should go on, or what kind of a personality she should have, or anything at all! – Please comment below and let me know 😀
Thank you for your time! See you in my next one.
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