Elpis

By Ethan Yeo. Ethan, 12, is a student at Saint Gabriel’s Secondary School in Singapore. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

I can still remember when the bad humans killed my mother. I was only 6, and my tusks were only a few centimetres long, not fit for selling, but Mother’s were already one point five meters, and they were what the humans were after.  We were running from the lion pride of Gomondwane, an all-male lion coalition.

Mother didn’t see the humans in the dark, as she usually would, as she was distracted by one of the lions clawing at her flank. The lion came away with his claws drenched Mother’s blood, but she kept running slower, to protect me. I was much slower than her as I was very young, and she could have easily turned and fought them off on her own, or dashed ahead to save herself. But to save me, she made herself my meat shield, letting the lions scratch and bite her while keeping me from getting attacked.

We were almost at the watering hole, where the other lion prides, the crocodiles, wildebeest, antelope and leopards would keep the pursuing lions at bay, when a shot rang out from to my right. A potbellied black rhinoceros slumped onto the ground, a feathered dart embedded in his side. Some of the humans ran over with a knife and began cutting away at the rhinoceros’s horns. At that age, I thought the humans were bigger chimpanzees that stood on two legs with no hair and wore clothes instead of fur. “How funny.” I thought. “Why aren’t they growing any fur like the chimpanzees and gorillas? Won’t they be cold in the rainy season?”

Then, I saw a terrifying sight. The rhinoceros lay still, and the humans slashed his horns off, leaving white stumps behind. One of them yelled in a human language, ‘English’, I think it was. “Hey fellas! We got elephants! A healthy female plus a calf! It’s our lucky day today!”

Suddenly, the lions stopped and backtracked to their territory. “Oh dear. If these humans scare even lions away, what do they have? Venom like the cobras, tusks like us, fangs like the lions or claws like the cheetahs?” I thought frantically. Mother had not said a word and kept on running. “Sooner or later we’re gonna cross into another lion pride’s hunting grounds!” I panicked.

“FIRE!” a shot cracked out from behind us. Mother stumbled, but kept keeping pace, despite groaning in pain. Another shot hit Mother, this one hitting her right flank. She shouted to me in a desperate tone. “Run! Run to the next watering hole! Find another elephant herd to take you in!”

I heeded her advice and sprinted, and soon, the trees and animals of another watering hole came into view. But I heard two, then three more shots, and finally, a heavy thud. I took a look back and saw Mother lying on her side, breathing heavily. Then, her chest stopped heaving and the humans started their ‘work’.

First, they brutally hacked away at her face with an axe, mutilating and disfiguring. Then, they grabbed her tusks and pulled, the rest of the tusk embedded in her skull came away, soaked in blood. I will never forget that scene, where the bad humans took Mother away from me like that. The horrors of the ‘ivory trade’, as the good humans call it, right in front of my eyes.

Imagine now, human reader, if suddenly, at the tender age of 6, you were forcibly separated from your mother and left to fend for yourself.

Luckily, I made it to the next watering hole, safe, and lay down to sleep against a tree, exhausted. In the morning, some other humans came, these ones wearing tan-coloured uniforms and saying that they were ‘here to help me’.

One of them from their ‘truck’ fired a dart at me. I suddenly felt very sleepy and crashed into a tree, dazed, then fell into a deep, deep sleep.

I woke up where I live now. In ‘Pretoria Zoo’, and they named me ‘Elpis’, after one of their gods of hope. The other elephants tell me I am an icon for campaigning against ‘poaching’ and ‘the ivory trade.’

I am now the same age Mother was when she was killed, 40, and am a brawny, healthy, fully-grown male elephant. I hope she can see, from wherever she is now, that I am safe and sound, living comfortably and happily with a mate in a place where I am well-cared for and protected.

Human reader, let me tell you this: The ivory trade is a terrible, terrible thing, so, the next time you see a necklace or bangle made from ‘100% Authentic Elephant Tusk’, think twice and about what happened to me and Mother.

18 comments on “Elpis

  1. Eileen on

    Wow! This is a very well-narrated piece! I love that it is unpretentious, straight from the heart. Conveys such strong messages in this simple, heartfelt way…. really touches the heart. The writer’s maturity and sensitivity shine through! Not surprised at all if this is the winning piece!

    Reply
    • Ethan Yeo on

      Wow! Thank you for your comment on my story, and I am glad that you think of my story in the ways that you listed above!

      ~ Ethan Yeo

      Reply
  2. Boon on

    The story of ‘Elpis’ will undoubtedly stay in my mind the next time I come across anything related to elephants 🙂 I really enjoyed reading the story! It’s written with clarity and focus and the message is strong. Touches the heart. Truly an excellent piece of writing!

    Reply
    • Ethan Yeo on

      Thank You! Touching the heart of readers was certainly my objective while writing Elpis, and I am glad to see that I have gotten the point across!

      ~ Ethan Yeo

      Reply
  3. Ching on

    A deeply engaging article which tugs at heart to be voice of animals in general. Provoking and insightful to humanity’s responsibilities to care and protect animals. Awesome work for a young boy!

    Reply
    • Ethan Yeo on

      Tugging at the heart of the reader is what I feel makes this story tick, and highlighting humanity’s responsibility to animal protection was also another aspect I wanted to focus on 😃.

      ~ Ethan Yeo

      Reply
  4. Essie on

    A very good read and brings forth insights and thoughts about ivory trade and animala poaching. Coming from a very different perspective. Interesting and an awesome and insightful piece of work, especially from a young author. Hats off and good job Ethan!

    Reply
    • Ethan Yeo on

      The Ivory Trade and animal poaching are very real and very serious problems, and one of the things about putting events from the animal’s point of view is one of the ways I am able to describe the brutality of poaching from a more in-depth perspective. Thanks for reading!

      ~ Ethan Yeo

      Reply
  5. Mary on

    Very good piece of work from a young boy, it sheds light and brings attention to Animal poaching and what can humans do for these poor animals. Indeed an award winning piece of work!

    Reply
  6. Geraldine on

    A great narrative and impactful story with regards to raising awareness to animal poaching. It’s a story to remember and it will definitely cross my mind if I were to chance upon an elephant the next time 🙂 Really genuine thoughts and it makes you reflect about your own actions as it allows readers to be in the shoes of the young elephant.
    Great Job Ethan! 🙂

    Reply
  7. Yeo Choon Hoe @ Yeo Tony on

    The story is heart rendering and sincere concern for animal wellness. Ethan has indeed spoken for all of us to be mindful of our thoughts and actions. Well done.

    Reply
    • Ethan Yeo on

      The Ivory Trade and animal poaching are very real and very serious problems, and one of the things about putting events from the animal’s point of view is one of the ways I am able to describe the brutality of poaching from a more in-depth perspective. Thanks for reading!

      ~ Ethan Yeo

      Reply
    • Ethan Yeo on

      Thank You! Touching the heart of readers was certainly my objective while writing Elpis, and I am glad to see that I have gotten the point across!

      ~ Ethan Yeo

      Reply
  8. Mdm Wendy on

    A great essay to share in class especially for lessons on poaching and threats to the environment. Like the style of writing, content is very relatable to students and insightful perspectives. Well done Ethan!

    Reply
    • Ethan Yeo on

      I am over the moon that you would think that Elpis is a good enough story to be shared in a classroom setting! Thanks for reading! 😄

      Reply
  9. Zachary T. on

    The story, depicted through Elpis, is especially vivid and engaging, highlighting the savagery of elephant poaching. Good work by the author!

    Reply
  10. Nisa on

    A well crafted piece of work that is both fascinating and moving. Am glad that you have chosen to include a beautiful message that educate us readers about the evils of ivory trade. Well done and can’t wait to read other stories you have written.

    Reply

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