The majestic and gentle giants of Africa rendered me speechless. Whether we were admiring them from a distance in Kruger or getting hugs on the Garden Route, these astounding creatures beat out bungee jumping as my favorite part of the entire trip. Learning about their extensive memories and relationships made them seem that much more remarkable. We learned how they mourn and can sense the deaths of other elephants. We were also lucky enough to interact with the elephants on the Garden Route. There we were able to walk with the elephants, hug them, and feed them. The elephants each had a personality of their own and knew what was necessary to get more food.
Despite these amazing experiences with elephants we learned about their overpopulation and the destruction they cause in Kruger. Elephants have been knocking down trees throughout the Game Reserve for no apparent reason. This has caused many initiatives to develop in order to save the delicate ecosystem. These initiatives have been top-down approaches in order to decrease elephant population and increase park size. These proposals have not been successful and have adverse side-effects that harm the ecosystem even more. I thought this was interesting in the sense that top-down approaches are not specific to global health programs. Issues in different fields also struggle with vertical approaches that are not sustainable or effective in solving various issues. Overall, I hope that people will let these beautiful creatures be and let the ecosystem transform with time as human interaction will do nothing but harm the diverse ecosystem of Kruger.