Perhaps the deepest, greatest part of life is the celebration of birth and, hopefully, the celebration of a full life lived. The celebration of death. It is sad and perhaps even something we as humans fear, but there is a peacefulness in death, found surely by the one who’s life it was.
It is with this feeling and understanding, that I can write these words. It brings me peace to say that this elephant cow, this matriarch, mother, and grand mother, passed away at a ripe old age, surrounded by all those close to her. Her herd would have known her their whole lives, as she would have known them, just as she would have known her own mother and family that went before her.
The medical details are not important, the fact that she lived a full life, a rich life and died of old age, is. That experience; to have shared life, and in the end, death, is an important one for every elephant in her herd; just as it was for her over the years. It is how we learn and share the circle of our lives.
From the tracks the morning she was found, it was clear that the herd had been around her as and after she passed away. From what I have seen over the years in the bush, I think humans are perhaps the only mammals that sometimes fear death. I dare say, even to the point of keeping us from living sometimes. In the wild I have seen many battles to live, and always animals will fight and hold on to life with a tenacity and instinct we can well appreciate, but never have I perceived fear of death in wild, free animals.
Were it not for those around us, to observe, “us” would not even exist. In the end, it is those we share our lives with, share experiences and moments with, that give meaning to  life, and every moment we can do so enriches that experience. Every moment.

Written by Pieter Pretorius

(Note: WE would like to thank Djuma Game Reserve, the Sabi Sands and Jurie and Pippa Moolman for fighting so hard for the rights of wild animals to be wild, and always allowing us to share this with you. Also, WE would like to thank Chitwa Chitwa and Charl Brink for giving us the opportunity to visit this cow on their land. Finally, WE would like to thank you. Because it is your wisdom, willingness to learn and trust in those of us that value and protect the rights of wild animals to live lives as unaffected by humans as possible, that makes it all possible. She has gone, but her life lives on. Her calf will grow, and one day she may be the matriach. The circle of life is perfect. WE are happy it happened like this.)