Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Last Elephant 2009

At the turn of the 20th century, it is estimated that elephants numbered between 5 and 10 million, but hunting and habitat destruction had reduced their numbers to 400,000 to 500,000 by the end of the century. In the ten years preceding 1990 the population more than halved from 1.3 million to around 600,000, largely caused by the ivory trade, prompting an international ivory ban. While elephant populations are increasing in parts of southern and eastern Africa, other African nations report a decrease of their elephant populations by as much as two-thirds, and populations in even some protected areas are in danger of being eliminated. Chad has a decades-old history of poaching of elephants, which has caused the elephant population of the region, which exceeded 300,000 in 1970, to drop to approximately 10,000 today. In Virunga National Park, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the number of elephants living in the observable area of the park fell from 2,889 in 1951 to 348 in 2006.  Wikkepedia

Watching a nature program on PBS one evening, I was appalled to hear that elephants could be extinct by 2050.  Of course, I needed no more information then that to react--if PBS said it might happen, then I knew it had to be true.  Over the course of the next several weeks, an elephant began to form itself in my studio, birthing itself into a world covered entirely by concrete, a relection of the world in 2050.  The only trees are just barely alive, if at all.  Graffiti is everywhere: on the ground, the trees, and, adding insult to injury, someone has even managed to graffiti our elephant's ear and side. Even the clouds have been hit. The sky, while beautiful, reflects an atmospheric soup of noxious gasses and pollutants, nothing any living thing should have to breathe.  Like all elephants past, present, and future, this last elephant is stoic, but very, very sad.

1 comment:

  1. It hurts my heart to read what you have written. I feel a special affinity to elephants, such noble animals, and had the delightful opportunity to be among them in South Africa last year. I too paint elephants. I find your painting evocative and lovely.



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