nellie & babar

About Rachel Sinclair - Part 2 of 2



childhood

I attended Chapel End primary school in Walthamstow, London. There is my earliest memory of my love for animals. I had a friend called Jack who also loved animals. We would often pretend to rescue his soft toy animals, hoisting them up and down the staircase in Jack’s home. We would bandage up wounded animals and make sure they were put back on his bed, safe and sound. When the weather was good we would go outside with an array of plastic animals and hide them around the garden and then pretend we were conservation workers and rescue them. For such young children, we really did love animals!


Elephants have always been my favourite animal. My mum used to sing me “Nellie The Elephant”, but I had no idea what the importance of those lyrics really was, I just liked the tune. My favourite childhood programme was Babar, I remember watching those over and over, especially if I was off school, it was the best way to spend a sick day. I don’t remember having the books so it was only recently that I learnt about the tragic beginning of Babar’s life. Maybe my mum thought it would upset me too much knowing that Babar’s mum was shot and killed by a hunter.


When I was 11 years old some friends bought me an “adopt an elephant” gift. I honestly thought this elephant was mine for the year. I was quite disappointed when I got to London Zoo and saw the list of other people who had also sponsored this elephant for that year! But anyway it was the closest I’d ever been to a real live elephant. She was huge and truly beautiful, I was mesmerized! But I couldn’t help but think that she didn’t have much space to roam around. As we went through the zoo I became increasingly more upset, the tigers had hardly any space at all and they looked so unhappy. I’ve not been to London Zoo for over 20 years, but I’ve heard its changed a lot (thank goodness).

My favourite place to visit animals was Longleat and even until recently I enjoyed watching BBCs Animal Park with mum. I used to think Michaela Strachan had the best job in the world, presenting The Really Wild Show, what a cool job!


the real world

It wasn’t until 2015 that Keith and I were able to visit elephants in the wild. It was a massive tick on my bucket list. South Africa is a truly amazing country and one of the cheaper, more accessible places to do a safari holiday. After a 14 hour flight, we drove for 6 hours to the Kruger National Park. The views on the way were spectacular, the country is full of lush greenery. We chose to go in December as we were advised that was a good time to spot baby elephants, a dream come true!


We saw so many elephants, it was breathtaking. To see animals in their natural environment was so, so special! We learnt a lot about elephant behaviour from our excellent guides Craig and Happi- now I think those guys have the best jobs in the world!


When we visited Africa in 2015, it was reported that 100 elephants per day were being killed for their ivory. Thanks to some extraordinary people, that has nearly halved to 55 elephants per day. Elephants are very important and they perform crucial jobs that the environment relies on. Losing so many elephants per day is devastating and really has a negative effect on the landscape as well as the herds.

Thankfully nearly 95% of the British population now think animals should be banned from circuses, so hopefully, the next generation of children will not comprehend any of the “Nellie the Elephant” song. But there is a new very concerning trend that is affecting these wild beauties – ride an elephant. No, ride a bike! Admittedly at first this does sound very exciting but elephants are strong powerful beings, how are they made so tame that the general public can ride them! If you don’t know the answer please watch this:

Elephants mean a lot to me, many happy memories flood back when I think of elephants. Maybe you will never be able to afford to see them in the wild, or maybe you don’t want to, but please support conservation efforts and re-wilding projects where you can! The work they do really does help!

To Bombay A travelling circus came They brought an intelligent elephant And Nellie was her name One dark night She slipped her iron chain And off she ran to Hindustan And was never seen again
Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk And said goodbye to the circus Off she went with a trumpety-trump Trump, trump, trump Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk And trundled back to the jungle Off she went with a trumpety-trump Trump, trump, trump
Night by night She danced to the circus band When Nellie was leading the big parade She looked so proud and grand No more tricks For Nellie to perform They taught her how to take a bow And she took the crowd by storm Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk And said goodbye to the circus Off she went with a trumpety-trump Trump, trump, trump Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk And trundled back to the jungle Off she went with a trumpety-trump Trump, trump, trump
The head of the herd was calling Far, far away They met one night in the silver light On the road to Mandalay Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk And said goodbye to the circus Off she went with a trumpety-trump Trump, trump, trump Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk And trundled back to the jungle Off she went with a trumpety-trump Trump, trump, trump…

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