By Kelechi Deca

Few days ago I stumbled upon a video of kids jumping on, and physically abusing an Elephant, or should I call it ‘elephanthandling’ an Elephant lying helpless on the floor.

I was so pissed off by that sight that I switched off. It was such a troubling sight. They claimed the Elephant drank about 200 litres of local gin giving the kids opportunity to desecrate such majestic giant.. A claim I couldn’t verify.

Today, a friend tagged me on same video asking how animal conservationists could be of help. I do not know the exact location of the scene, some said it was in Rivers State, while some said it was in Cote D’Ivoire.

I know in recent times, there have been sighting of Elephants within Southern Nigeria, especially in Saki, Oyo State and also in Ikuru town in Andoni local govt. area of Rivers state.

Less than 100 years ago, Elephants used to roam all over Nigeria especially within the tropical rainforest region. There were even urban legends about Elephants across the west coast of Africa.

For example, the forest area where Aba is located had huge Elephants population in the thousands. There is this story that when the people migrated from present day Imo crossing the Imo River to Ngwaland, they missed their way and a mysterious Elephant appeared and led them to the present day Aba stopping at a spot where later became Ehi (Elephant) Road .

Aba wasn’t called Enyimba City for nothing.

On the alleged drunk Elephant. The giant and few other animals don’t seem to handle alcohol quite well.

I came across this study that found that, due to a genetic dysfunction, elephants could have a particularly low alcohol tolerance, meaning (theoretically) they could get drunk.

This is against the backdrop of debates over the years as whether they could get drunk. But in the study, it was calculated that in order to reach a concentration of alcohol high enough to have an effect, one elephant would have to eat between 10–27 litres of 7% ethanol in a short period of time – something unlikely to occur in the wild.

Another study suggests that elephants like few other mammals lack a functional ADH7 gene, meaning they are unable to produce the alcohol dehydrogenase 7 enzyme and, therefore, struggle to metabolize alcohols.

Other animals found to lack a functional ADH7 gene include armadillos, rhinos, guinea pigs, beavers, horses and cattle. But humans, as well as some non-human primates, have a mutation in the same gene that gives them an unusually high ability to metabolize ethanol – an increase in efficiency up to 40-fold compared with the non-mutated gene.

I still remember an experience I had few years ago in Zambia where a guide told me about the Marula trees ( from where Amarula, our own Irish cream came from).

He said that Elephants trek over 250 kilometers just to have a taste of the sweet ripe Marula fruits. The African Marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) is also locally called the Elephant tree or the Marriage Tree.

Sclerocarya birrea, commonly known as the Marula, is indigenous to the miombo woodlands of Southern Africa, the Sudano-Sahelian range of West Africa, and Madagascar.

Walking with my guide into the forest. I encountered alpha male baboons sitting motionless on the pathways. My guide touched one and he showed no sign of aggression. Walking deeper into the forest, we saw over 25 of them lasting about chatting incoherently and laughing. .

The Amarula tree is different things to different people and also to different animals. It’s fruits has a very high medicinal value and its powder is high in antioxidants. The Elephants eat it to aid digestion and endurance. The Monkeys to feel high.

Amarula trees are like the Boabab trees. They signify resilience…..the resilience of Mother Africa. ….

#nigerianconservation #elephantlovers #naturelovers #nationalgeographic

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