Our choice of words and the way in which we use them, strongly influence the understanding and perception of those who hear them.
I recently completed an extraordinary safari with wonderful people from Belgium. On this safari we had special times with elephants, approaching them on foot and having them enter our camp.
We saw magnificent elephants in magnificent settings
We saw the agile elephants of Mana Pools
We saw very many elephants
Sadly there were also areas where we saw very few elephants but where in previous years I had seen hundreds of elephants. We heard about National Parks losing 3 elephants per day!
I regularly hear “conservationists” talking about the “elephant problem” and the need to “cull” elephants. Well there is no “elephant problem”. There is a human problem that is decimating elephant populations and forcing the remaining elephants into smaller and smaller areas. For as long as we continue referring to this issue as “The elephant problem” we will fail to recognise the real problem. And the so called “elephant problem” will never go away for as long as the human population continues to grow at its current rate and continues to devour land and resources.
I have a similar problem with the term “elephant cull”, which is just a euphemism for KILLING elephants. It is a way of sanitising the wholesale slaughter of sentient beings that possess just as strong a value on family as humans have. It would be more honest to say that we need to slaughter elephant families because we have a human problem!