Refugees and Elephants

Posted on 21 April 2016

bernard-dupont-ccbysa-Baby_Elephantphoto by Bernard Dupont CC BY SA

The inspiration for Heard of Elephants was a connect the dots process.

I had just spent a number of months with refugees at a detention centre. As something of a break I was visiting my parents who both were having their eightieth birthday. During my spare moments at the family reunion I was thinking about what my next musical would be. A number of people were already producing shows about refugees. No one was addressing why the refugee situation is getting worse.

Casually reading a book about Africa had me thinking about how we are complicit in forcing people out of their countries. The global warming we are causing is bringing about the further desertification of the African continent. The farmers are then forced into the cities. People have less food. Civil unrest ensues. Soon people are forced to leave their countries, as in Syria and Burundi.

My grandfather used to help people grow crops in Vietnam. He spoke of how they only had six inches of good soil and that every time they destroyed the forest, they were destroying the very thing that was giving them their farmland. He rode an elephant to work each day. Large frugivores (fruit eating animals) are critical to the survival of forests.

In Africa elephants are a keystone species for the continued existence of the Congo. The forests of the Congo and the Amazon are the lungs of the world. They are the largest carbon sinks for this planet. The decay of their biomass flows from their rivers into the ocean where it provides nutrients for the plankton that produce most of the world’s oxygen. Elephants only digest about 40% of what they eat. The rest becomes the perfect seed packets for perpetuating a forest: poo. Elephant poo spreads seeds around the countryside combined with all the nutrients and insect life they need to sprout and grow.

When chaotic climate events force farmers to take over the forest for new farmland, they start competing with the elephants. When they kill elephants to protect their new farmland, they are destroying the thing that makes their farms possible and the forest that has been protecting them from even worse climate effects. With crime cartels and big game hunters willing to pay big bucks for elephants, people who are in desperation feel it is their right to destroy this animal for their survival. When we ignore what is happening in Africa and do nothing to help its peoples and wildlife, we are digging our own graves.

Elephants I felt were a good way to grab people’s attention, engage their empathy, and get them taking positive action. Because we have to save the elephant. Every day when we take a breath, we are breathing elephants.

Please give to my crowdfunding campaign for Heard of Elephants. It’s cheap and helps to raise awareness which is also important. Thank you.

Peace and kindness,


Heard of Elephants donation site.

Responses are closed for this post.

Recent Posts

Tag Cloud

constitution environment human rights united nations


Katherine Phelps is proudly powered by WordPress and the SubtleFlux theme.

Copyright © Katherine Phelps