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An Elephant Never Forgets – and You Never Forget an Elephant

They plod slowly across yellow grasslands to the Zambezi River – a jumble of grey trunks and broad flapping ears and magnificent curved tusks.

Babies after mothers. Heads down.

Their daily ritual of returning to the life-saving river to drink and bathe, as the afternoon sun scorches the African bush.

Our plane rises above, and they get smaller, smaller, smaller.

Soon, they’re but an indistinguishable blur on the landscape. An aching memory only.

Elephants in Africa

An elephant never forgets – or is it the other way around?

We’ve returned from our trip to Africa and our safari in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park.

Clothes have been washed and put away. Photos have been filed.

But we can’t stop thinking about the elephants.

Baby elephant

Elephants on our minds

Across the African continent, elephants are being slaughtered in record numbers for their ivory tusks.

It’s estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 elephants are killed each year in Africa by poachers. last year.

According to World Elephant Day, more elephants are still being killed for ivory than are being born in the African continent.

Add to that the loss of their habitat due to people wanting land for houses and farms, and you have a terrible crisis.

Are elephants going extinct?

Conservationists fear elephants could soon become extinct.

It’s predicted that elephants could become extinct by 2040.

Many African safari camps do their utmost to help conservation efforts.

The Cumings family, for example, who own and operate Chiawa Camp in the Lower Zambezi National Park (where we stayed), helped establish Conservation Lower Zambezi.

This organization supports the Zambian Wildlife Authorities’ anti-poaching efforts in the park. (Zambia’s elephant population plummeted from 35,000 in the 1970s to only 6,000 in the 1990s.)

We’ll never forget the elephants

You never forget an elephant

In the words of actor Bill Murray at the end of Larger than Life:

“You know… they say an elephant never forgets. What they don’t tell you is, you never forget an elephant.”

It would be an unthinkable tragedy if the elephants were to disappear. And become just aching memories…

Baby elephant with mother

How do you feel about the impending loss of elephants from our planet?

You can share your thoughts in the Comments section below :-).

Experience more of Africa

A river safari: Grunting hippos! Ellies at sunset! A river safari on the elegant Zambezi Queen is unlike any other kind of safari.

Cape Town, South Africa: Hiking up Table Mountain isn’t exactly a walk in the park. But the views are astounding!

Stone Town, Zanzibar: Discover 17 spell-binding things to do in Stone Town.

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

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Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more.

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About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Deven Drafarswan

Wednesday 20th of December 2017

This is very scary to think humans killing elephants is just for their ivory tusks. The UN should take big action for these types of crime in the world.

Janice and George

Thursday 21st of December 2017

It's very sad, yes. The world will be a much poorer place if future generations can no longer remember elephants...

Samuel Jeffery

Saturday 14th of December 2013

I certainly agree with Bill Murray: "“You know … they say an elephant never forgets. What they don’t tell you is, you never forget an elephant.”

Having had the opportunity to be around elephants in Chiang Mai, I have an even greater appreciation for these majestic creatures.

Janice and George

Saturday 14th of December 2013

They are such wonderful creatures, aren't they!


Saturday 7th of December 2013

So sad. I can't wait to go to Africa next year. I'm planning a mountain bike trip in Ethiopia but also want to go on a Safari with a company that supports conservation. Do you have any tips / links / recommendations?

Janice and George

Saturday 7th of December 2013

Biking Ethiopia followed by a game-viewing safari sounds like a terrific trip! Chiawa Camp in Zambia works with Conservation Lower Zambezi. Wilderness Safaris, Ker & Downey and andBeyond all have good reps for supporting conservation efforts. We look forward to reading about your trip!

Becky Padmore

Monday 18th of November 2013

Elephants are one of my favourite animals, so big but they can look so vulnerable too. It would be tragic if they were wiped out, people can be so cruel and selfish.

Janice and George Mucalov

Monday 18th of November 2013

They need our protection, for sure... Thanks for commenting...


Thursday 14th of November 2013

Botswana is famous for its wilderness and wildlife areas, but every year thousands of elephants are killed only for their ivory tusks. It's very brutal. Elephants will disappear if the ivory trade can't be controlled.

Very tragic story.

Janice and George Mucalov

Thursday 14th of November 2013

Yes, it's incredibly sad...