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Let Elephants Be Elephants

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Let Elephants Be Elephants

Have you ever seen ivory in a shop? If the answer is yes, then I hope you know that an elephant had to die for this decoration. Elephants may be adored the world over, but they are still under threat of being poached for their tusks, which can be used in fake medicines, jewellery, the manufacturing of piano keys, carved decorations, and furniture, to state a few.

There are many people who think about doing something for the elephants, but few of us take the time to act. Fortunately for us, there are people who do take a stand against this vile treatment of one of the world’s most dignified animals, and one of them is Tammie Matson, a renowned zoologist and author.

Tammie wanted to be a zoologist from the young age of 15, when she first went on safari in Zimbabwe, and fell in love with elephants. She has since realised her dream and achieved a PhD in Zoology. Tammie has also written three books on her life and experiences. In 2007 Tammie returned to Australia to lead the national threatened species program at WWF in Sydney. As a result of this, she gained a voice for endangered species worldwide.

Tammie decided to move to Singapore in 2012, and co-founded the Let Elephants Be Elephants campaign along with the well-known Asian TV star Nadya Hutagalung, who was once host of Asia’s Next top Model. They decided to make a documentary together to be broadcast across Asia in 2013 on the National Geographic channel. Its aim was to raise awareness about the elephants and what is happening to them. A combination of Nadya’s fame and Tammie’s expertise meant that the documentary went on to be shortlisted for the Asian TV Awards for Best Documentary.

Tammie has just kickstarted a new project based in Akagera National Park, Rwanda. Her project focuses on enlarging the the elephant population within the National Park, and she also studies the effect of the traumatising early life that some of these elephants experience.

The elephant population in Akagera had been completely wiped out by 1975, so it was decided that 26 very young orphaned elephants would be transferred to the park. Their parents had all been killed in a cull to keep the elephant population under control. This was a big problem because elephant societies depend a lot on their elders, as they instruct and guide the younger elephants.

Just one of the things that elephants still have a problem with even now is "age prejudice". In an unaffected elephant society, if an elder cries out ‘danger’, every elephant acts upon this. They do not however react to a younger elephant’s warning. Unfortunately the elephant population in Akagera does not have this age prejudice and reacts to all ages. Tammie Matson is working on a conservation project to study the anomalies that occur within the Akagera elephant population. With the latest poaching spree in Africa, this should prove to be very useful information. She is also helping the elephants and ensuring that the elephants are repopulating without too many difficulties.

The elephants in Akagera were not able to live a normal life because humans altered it. If it was humans who brought this unfairness upon the elephants, then it should be humans who reverse it. I strongly believe that the elephants in Akagera National Park should have more global attention and funding, and support should be directed towards Tammie and her great charity.

I was also very moved by how Tammie spoke. You could hear that she was really passionate about this new project, and believed that the elephants in Akagera should have the basic right to a normal life, free of poaching and other dangers. Though she believes that this should occur worldwide, concentrating on Akagera is an important step to take towards a world free of elephant poaching. Her message is as simple as this: ‘Elephants do not deserve to die or suffer an unusual life because humans violated their peaceful life in the past.’


"Tammie Matson » Bio." Tammie Matson,

"Index of /image/userfiles/New Maps - Eastern Africa/Rwanda/Akagera National Park/." Mosi Oa,

"Saving Elephants: Zoologist Tammie Matson Reveals The Hidden Secrets Of Rwanda." The Carousel, 27 Apr. 2018,

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14 Mar 2019
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