Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What we don't know... does not make it Sudden!

A friend of mine sent me an article on Elephants in parts of Africa and Asia that scientists and researchers are beginning to learn about the danger these Elephants are causing towards humans... they suspect "their actions to be sudden acts of randomness." What we don't know, does not make it sudden! What we ignore and pay no attention to, does not make it SUDDEN, when we do. As a dog trainer specializing in canine behavior management and modification of behavioral problems in dogs, I commonly hear "he has all of a sudden started to become aggressive." Then I ask "oh is the dog injured or suffering from a medical condition causing pain inflected aggression/irritation?" Because that can be sudden, but more often than not, that's not the case. When we spend more time going over the details, these parents realize their dog's have shown signs of what has lead to aggression... long before the dog's acting out... and these are all things we know because the dog has a history of behaving in this fashion for quite some time... but what about when we don't know... or when we are unable to accurately pin point the When's, Where's, How's and Why's, does that make the outcome "sudden?" It is devastating to hear researchers describe such actions as sudden acts of randomness, because it immediately means that animal is of threat without any threat, danger or provocation... and thus the animal is dangerous... they need to be destroyed! Growing up in Kenya, I remember a childhood where we grew up coexisting with animals. This was not many hears ago, actually only 25-28 years ago... but in this short of a time frame, how the world has changed for all animals except for mankind. I remember very vividly going on safari's and having to be absolutely silent! The only sounds to everyone's ears was the sound of our breathing, and the rustling of dry bushes and a light wind... behind which a lioness stood low to the ground stalking her prey. I remember the rangers having no tolerance for excited tourists... they had the right, and they did, throw you out of the parks if you were unable to use your "safari voice." We learned a lot from these rangers... you could not pay them to move you closer to an animal, if they felt the animal would change its behavior in any way. Today though, 25-30 years later... a friend of mine was sharing her stories about their recent trip to Botswana. As we were flicking through the photos, I paused to see the photo of their Jeep, deeply dented on the fender bender... and I laughed out loud saying "did you experience getting stuck in the mud?" This was very common while driving through the jungles... and the only way out was to be rescued by another car... and sometimes it took two, one pulling the car out from the front, while the other pushed the car from the back. Waiting for her reply, she said "no" as she laughed out loud... "actually, our ranger thought it would be funny to rev the engine at an Elephant." Immediately, I thought, "What.... he actually did that...." Well the culture has certainly changed, but the animals have not... The Elephant turned around and charged the Jeep, putting a huge gent into the back end, and almost ejecting the passengers in the back seat. Now, if the Elephant really wanted to, she would have tossed that jeep onto its roof in one swift act... but she did not. Does she remember that some human fool did this and found it amusing? I think so... I think she will forever! One day will she threaten another human she sees starring at her, this time in awe! Possibly! Will it be a sudden act of randomness? Not really. We have forgotten how to live in a world of coexistence, we only know ownership! This is the danger humans present living with animals.

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