ELEPHANTS AT AMESBURY BUT NO CHILLI PLEASE
Did you know that Elephants don’t like chilli, are scared of bees, but not scared of mice? Also that four elephants die every hour globally! Well pupils at Amesbury do, after their most recent visit from one of the school’s Associates, Dr Kate Evans, founder of the Charity Elephants for Africa.
During her latest visit Dr Evans worked with pupils from Y3-Y7 explaining how Elephants are a ‘key-stone’ species – essential to the life of many other creatures – and how as part of her conservation role her team partners with communities in Botswana to work with the local population to enable humans and elephants to live harmoniously.
Predictably pupils loved hearing the story of how ‘poo’ is mixed with chilli and dangled from trees and burned to prevent the elephants from entering certain areas. Apparently Elephants, do not like chilli … yet, contrary to generations of cartoons, they are not afraid of mice, though they are scared of bees!
She played a video of an adolescent male carefully stepping over fencing designed to segregate the national park from the farmland, highlighting the challenges elephants and humans face living alongside each other. For many of the people with whom she works are women farmers who are concerned not only with the damage that may be caused to their vital crops, but also for the safety of their young children, who may be confronted by an animal ten times their size.
She explained how four elephants die every hour globally; 100kg of ivory being equivalent to a year-and-a-half’s salary for a park ranger and 50 per cent of rangers’ deaths are down to poachers.
The reaction of pupils was wonderful, moving quickly to Dr Evans’ side at the end of her talks to ask more and more questions, comments ranging from ‘the best talk I have ever heard’ to ‘totally epic’. From Year 4 George said: “It was really interesting, with so many facts,” while Meredith added: “It was really inspiring.” Kate was even able to tell the pupils how they could work out whether an Elephant was happy or sad?
With regular visits and contact with Amesbury, Dr Evans brings with her a lifelong passion for elephants, coupled with an inquisitive nature. She followed her childhood dream to work with, and understand the great elephant and has over 18 years’ experience as a field biologist in Southern Africa. In 2002 she set up a long-term research project on elephants in northern Botswana with the support of Randall Moore, the Botswana Government and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Amesbury is very proud and delighted to have Dr Kate Evans on board as an Amesbury Associate, a select group of highly qualified individuals in their fields, who each provide pupils with a very rich source of knowledge, experience and aspiration.
It’s fair to say not only did the pupils enjoy the visit, they were entertained and educated. If Dr Evans’ wants to inspire a new generation of scientists and conservationists she looks to be doing just that, at Amesbury.