Image: Elephant Skeleton ~ Mike Richardson
When I close my eyes
I dream of deepest Africa
Our ancestral home
Where the orange sun rises
Over the plantation lands
And the hot winds blow
Across the Serengeti plains
Deep in the wilderness
Vultures hover over an elephant graveyard
Swooping to pick at the flesh
Of all that remains
Their bones lie everywhere
Scattered and broken
Discarded by thieves in their search
For precious ivory
What happened to them I do not know
Perhaps it was starvation
Or the lust and greed of man
But if you look closely
Sometimes you can still see them
And hear their mighty trumpets
Echoing through the night
Away in the city
Amongst the towers and smog
An elephant calf sits
In a concrete cage
The last of its kind
It sits and stares at the world
And remembers a time
When it was free
Licenced under a Creative Commons Licence
You can also listen to the poem below or at AudioBoo
Originally I started writing this poem for Blog Action Day but due to my health, I wasn’t able to finish it in time. So I’m posting it now instead.
It was inspired by a dream I had where I was standing in a pit, surrounded by the bones of hundreds of animals. It was extremely vivid; I kept thinking about the dream for days afterwards and thought about using it in a short story before deciding on a poem instead.
Over the last decade the threat of extinction has increased dramatically for many species, particularly for elephants in Africa. It’s largely due to poaching but also partially due to climate change; as droughts have worsened and their habitats have continued to be lost due to conditions and human encroachment, more elephants have had to search for food and water in new areas, where they often starve to death or are more easily targeted by poachers.
Some elephant populations have decreased by as much as two thirds in recent years and it’s thought that African elephants could be extinct by 2020. Whether people believe in the science of climate change or not, it’s clear that many species are becoming increasingly threatened on multiple fronts and if we do nothing, we could lose them forever.
That was what I wanted to represent in my poem. I wanted to leave the reader to decide what caused the extinction itself; I was more interested in showing what we have to lose. I hope you liked the poem. – CJ.