We homo sapiens love to think that our primary capacity to reason, process and respond to massive and little details of everyday life in a manner that self-reflects sanity makes us the ultimate beneficiaries of evolution.
That our unique ability to delve deep to the repercussions of our next course of action before undertaking them is what sets us apart from that plant colony in our garden, or perhaps, those herd of cattle grazing in the open field.
Of course, the above claims are all true. Humans are the Crownpiece of all organic evolution. We talk, multitask and even occasionally outperform our own towering expectations.
But while we love to think that we colonize the entire planet, with our puffy arms occasionally held high, there are still a lot of life lessons we can learn from our jungle brothers as they go about their own lives.
Yeah, I know my last sentence definitely raised a few eyebrows. Some of you might even protest by yelling ‘what can I really learn by watching the beasts of the field?!’
Put simply, you could learn one of the real existing problems of parenting — controlling adolescents. And most importantly, how to solve them.
All these from an elephant tale? Yes, of course.
And that is why your ability to be sensitive and a little bit humbled enough to get taught by them is key to understanding what lies ahead, and am pretty sure it’ll be worth it.
Which brings us exactly to the nitty-gritty of the young, abrasive elephants.
It was reported that:
Gus Van Dyk, during his time working as an ecologist at the Pilanesberg National Park, was getting concerned by the increasing numbers of dead rhinos being reported at the park – over 50 in all. So he decided to launch an investigation to determine the alleged cause of the rhino’s death.
Following the wound pattern found on their shoulders and neck as a strong lead, it was established that the perpetrators were elephants. Elephant attacks on rhinos are common, as they tend to fight for water holes. However, the rate at which attacks happened was still unusual.
Further investigations by Van Dyk would cast attention to a group of adolescent male elephants in their 12–20 years of age (the same age humans experience adolescence).
But do you know the fascinating real cause for these elephants’ violent behavioral instincts?
Musth is a state in young, adolescent elephants where they begin to exhibit the signs of adulthood. They brag, ooze cockiness, secrete urine constantly as a sign of their readiness to mate, and feel taller to showcase their elevation in the elephant top ladder.
After many alternatives on how to curtail the damaging rampage of these elephants, including the option to castrate, nature offered the only real solution and it would mean putting multiple full-blown male bulls in their midst, to watch, guide and exercise their macho superiority over them.
The result would be swift and decisive: within an hour, the teens would drop out of musth, leading to no more rhino deaths.
What are the striking similarities?
To relate this story to our families is not rocket science. The youthful exuberance of teenage children in our homes has been a long-standing issue that has divided opinions among diverse communities today — both in male and female.
Adolescence in young people often comes along with its baggage. At the age of 13-20, the signs begin to pop out. Behavioral changes, heightened emotions, the need to explore and find adventure. They begin to crawl out of their safe zones by getting more socially involved, while paradoxically having a strong craving for personal space and independence.
Add to the growing influential presence of peer groups and hormonal changes and it’s easy for one to quickly go off the rails if not properly educated.
Parents, in their attempt to find a template for good brewing, offers social institutions like schools, churches, and recreational centers as a guideline for moral upbringing.
Where teens often get taught on the need to play safe, to approach life from a healthy angle; how every decision — from sexual pleasure to peer pressure — go on to influence and shape their own future.
But in a scenario where an adolescent refuses to learn the easy way, parents are forced to adopt the hard drive. Grounding and certain restrictions are placed to stop them from growing out of shape.
On the other hand, the potential perils of a youngster growing without a parent figure are devastating. Like the young elephants, they’re left with no option but to follow their youthful instinct that can not be trusted to produce positive intuitions.
Left at the mercy of their explosive hormones, they engage in harmful exercises, make irrational decisions that put them and people around in harm’s way. It doesn’t take too long for them to be considered the ills of society.
Finally, the ultimate doom for an adolescent who, like the brutal elephants, gets consumed in awful youthful practices is an unprepared template for adulthood.
The proficiency of parents exercising their dominant presence in a soft and loving manner that is free from high hardiness — just like the alpha bulls — is one of the greatest ways of fostering orderliness in juveniles.
Like education, parent figure is a vital piece in the jigsaw of raising better adolescents. If not for the interventions of the alpha elephants, the young ones would have continued to go on a rampage until they met their match — which might have led to their eventual demise. The same can be applied to teenage children.
While we may consider ourselves humans that possess better judgment, we may want to take a page off these elephants’ textbooks, as it can be a powerful lesson and useful tool to curtail and avert present/future adolescents from going astray.