Thousands of miles away in Africa's interior, a herd of elephants -- presidential by name, majestic by nature -- must feel they've been abandoned.
Certainly they are aware that things have changed -- elephants are intelligent, perceptive and sensitive creatures and the signs of danger and impending death are all around them. And their sense of foreboding is warranted, for the truth is they *have* been abandoned -- by their long-time protector and now by an uncaring world. Their fate looks bleaker with every passing day.
For 13 years, one dedicated woman, Australian-born Sharon Pincott, single-handedly fought for the welfare and protection of the iconic Presidential Elephant Herd of Zimbabwe, so designated in 1990 by President Mugabe himself. His decree stated that this herd of more than 400 elephants should never be hunted or culled and should remain a symbol of Zimbabwe's commitment to responsible wildlife management. But this has proved to be an empty promise, as an audacious land grab on the herd's home range in Hwange now puts all the elephants in mortal danger.
On what was meant to be a protected area for the elephants in perpetuity, a foreign national has staked a claim to ownership and is forging ahead with her private enterprise. The American woman, Elisabeth Pasalk-Freeman, claims she inherited the property from her late mother, who in turn was given the land by the government. She and her cohorts know nothing about elephants or land management and have no experience in the tourism industry or with wildlife. And why should they? They're not there to look after them -- they're there to make money by allowing them to be killed.