The Elephants leave Xishuangbanna

A month ago they left. They are fifteen and they have walked 500 kilometres leaving behind empty barns, confused peasants and a puzzled international press.

Originally from Xishuangbanna, China, these elephants began their journey at the end of May 2021 for no apparent reason. They did not lack food and the area in which they lived was a protected forest reserve. Scientists are debating the reasons for what they call a “spontaneous migration.”

Do they migrate due to global warming or climate change? Do they leave because of some kind of biological imperative? Why do they walk to northern China? These are questions that have not yet found answers among specialists. What they seem to agree on, however, is this: the fifteen elephants, contrary to what is expected of their species, are walking into areas that are unknown to them. In other words, they are moving further and further away from the area they knew and have exceeded five times the distance that, on average, elephants travel from their home.

These elephants appear to be a precise metaphor for our current situation in this post-covid world.

Days and months go by and, like the elephants of Xishuangbanna, we are entering a kind of new territory: The pandemic shakes Brazil, which this week reached 500,000 deaths, 600,000 people have died in the USA and 400,000 people died in India. The UK postpones the full opening, due to the presence of a Covid (Delta) variant discovered in India. Meanwhile, other countries are leaving the pandemic behind and forget about the catastrophic situation in which poor countries are living. In the same way, Europeans enjoy the summer and, after months of confinement, they can now plan vacations again. Their leaders call them to spend money to boost the economy and get back on the track of feverish and mad economic growth as soon as possible.

Everything seems normal, but nothing is. Why? Because while this post-covid reality tries to reoccupy the television media and makes us believe that everything is fine again, the elephants stubbornly and bravely walk into the unknown, sinking into the night, dreaming as they tighten against the others, and, the next morning walk again.

Helpless, these courageous elephants have something to teach us today: it is time to forget the comfortable old world we live in and accept that the new one is calling us.

Time to get up and Walk!

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