From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chhouk the elephant: A wounded healer

(Photo by Alexander Klink)
Inspiration is sometimes thought to be nine-tenths of healing.  If so, then Chhouk of Cambodia is certainly a healer. 

NBC News Correspondent Ian Williams reports that Chhouk was found “alone and close to death” in the Cambodian jungle in 2007.  Chhouk’s left front foot was “mangled by a poacher’s trap.”  Although poaching is illegal, the “wildlife trade is thought to be the biggest illicit global business after drugs” with an estimated
worth “between $5 billion and $20 billion annually.”  According to Williams, “China is the biggest market for endangered and protected species,” and the United States “is reckoned to be the second largest market.”

Nick Marks, a director at the conservation group Wildlife Alliance, nursed Chhouk in the jungle for a week.  Chhouk was then moved to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center in order to continue recovering from the “six to eight inches of his leg” that he lost.  Experts at the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (who had honed such skills during the proliferation of landmines in that part of the world) developed a series (as the young bull elephant grew rapidly larger) of artificial feet for Chhouk.  Although Chhouk “will never be able to return to the wild,” he will be able to lead a “reasonably full” and inspiring life at the rescue center.  Since there are thought to be  only “300 to 500 elephants left in the wild in Cambodia,” such inspiration becomes crucial to the preservation of the species.

Williams states that young elephants like Chhouk are “prized by entertainment venues which often keep them in appalling conditions.”  Wikipedia reports that elephants have brains “larger than those of any other land animal” - and are known to exhibit behaviors indicative of grief… altruism… compassion and self-awareness.”

Therefore, elephants may also have greater ethics than any other land animal – and certainly greater than those being exhibited by their ruthless human persecutors.


Copyright November 14, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

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