Back To Zambia

I returned to Zambia four more times. Each visit brought me closer to the people and the wildlife, and with each visit, I learned more about the push and pull between saving elephants from extinction and villagers trying to feed their families. I got to know local people, villagers, students, those in the safari industry, people working hard to save wildlife and educate children, and people from all over the world who call the South Luangwa Valley home.
With each visit, I learned more about elephants and how close they are to extinction. I met people who helped me understand how ivory continues to make its way out of Zambia to Asia. The borders along the northeastern part of Zambia, wild with vegetation, rivers, and tributaries allow entry from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Malawi with few law enforcement challenges. Ivory from elephants and poached game or highly desired bush meat as they call it usually makes its way out from the North and South Luangwa National Parks through Malawi on the east or south through Chipata, the closest town along the long tar road on boats, motorbikes, or on foot. The bush meat goes to people in cities who haven’t lost their taste for wild game, and the ivory makes its way to Asia through the Black Market.
In Zambia, people shared stories of their favorite authors and experts who pioneered ways to raise orphaned elephants and studied elephant behavior. My library and e-reader filled with facts and stories about elephants. Through my trips to Zambia, I saw elephants in the wild and came to love and admire these enormous pachyderms more. On my last trip, we saw more than 50 elephants moving towards the village in a single-file line. The guide said it was rare to see so many together like that. We found out later that there was a small tremblor, and they were heading away from it. We never felt it. I spent hours watching elephants with their families, laughed at their antics, and realized how brilliant and kind they are. I cannot imagine a world without elephants. Each trip made me more determined to do my part to save them.

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