Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Elephant No. 50: Leaf Collage

This idea was sent to me by Nina Berkhout a couple of weeks ago, so I filed it away in the back of my mind for when the leaves began to fall. Over the past week, we've gone from trees full of colourful leaves to trees with almost no leaves at all, so today was the day.

When I was little, I loved gathering pretty fall leaves—probably influenced by my father, who used to come home from work with sheaves of beautiful leaves. In fact, some of them are still pressed between the pages of large family books.

I gathered a bag of leaves during a downtown walk this morning, trying to choose leaves of different shapes and sizes, as well as leaves that were just nice to look at. This is what I brought home.

I didn't really want to glue the leaves to anything, so I simply laid and relaid them in a couple of elephant designs. (I guess it's magic no-glue collage.) My only rule was that I had to use exactly what I had gathered: no cutting or shaping of anything, including the stems.

This was my first elephant. I won't attempt to name all the leaves, but I did like the maple key eye.

And this was the second. This time I used a cedar bud for the eye, and a fragment of dried cedar for the tail.

I found it surprisingly difficult to layer the leaves into elephants. I thought I'd save time by not glueing anything, but this meant that things had a tendency to move around, which was rather frustrating. Also, the leaves are naturally cupped, meaning that they don't want to lie flat. I also didn't always have the shapes of leaves I wanted. As for colours, I didn't really worry about that, as you can tell.

Although the first elephant only took me about 15 minutes; the second one took close to an hour. I like the final results well enough, but nature art doesn't come, well, naturally to me, so it may not be something I do again in a hurry.

Elephant Lore of the Day
I find this almost unbelievable in its stupidity, but in southern India's Coimbatore region, "elephant taunting" has become a new craze.

Coimbatore's forests are home to significant populations of elephants, which normally cross the region peacefully through six major elephant corridors. Incredibly, people now lurk along these same corridors, sending out messages via cellphone when elephants are spotted. Within a very short time, groups of people arrive via motorbike, bicycle or on foot.

According to two Conservation India reporters sent to investigate, "By the time we reached the spot, we were shocked to find ourselves amidst a mob of local youths, about a hundred strong, who were jeering and howling at a herd of elephants and provoking them. The matriarch positioned herself between the crowd and the herd, trying in vain to calm the young members of her family. Sometimes the men, mostly youths trying to prove their machismo, walked right up to the elephants to instigate them and induce some reaction."

Elephants are sensitive creatures, and appear to be bewildered by this pointless activity. Some will even attempt mock charges to scatter their tormenters, only to retreat in confusion when charging doesn't work. The taunting usually continues until the crowd grows bored, which can often be hours later.

Animal behaviourists speculate that idiotic "games" like this have contributed to a dramatic rise in human-elephant conflict in the region over the past two years. Indeed, a week after the reporters' visit, two people were killed in the same location by angry elephants.

To read more, click here.

An Asian elephant retreats before its tormentors.
Photo: Sreedhar Vijayakrishnan
Source: http://www.conservationindia.org/articles/elephant-taunting-%E2%80%93-

To Support Elephant Welfare
Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (Thailand)
Wildlife SOS (India) 
The Elephant Sanctuary (Tennessee)

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

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