Elephants can weigh up to 13,000 pounds (5,500 kg). Their noses (trunks) can store up a gallon of water, which they squirt in their mouths for a nice swallow of refreshing drink. Their two upper incisors--tusks--have been known to grow to over 20 feet long. An elephant's heart alone weighs 60 lbs (over 27 kg).
We had just finished lunch near a pan and were heading out to new adventures. Pans in African grasslands are large shallow depressions in the landscape that collect water during the rainy season, forming small ponds or lakes. Some are large enough to keep water all year round and serve as drinking sources for lots of different animals during the dry season. That makes a pan a very good place to go and watch for all kinds of animals.
We came to the first "T" on the dusty road, turned left and almost immediately saw Chokwane. He was an elephant, the last of the "Magnificent 7." Later a ranger told us no one ever sees him anymore; he roams the isolated regions of the game park alone and away from all other elephants and humans. He wears a small radio and park staff fear the day the radio stops because poachers found him.
The "Magnificent 7" have for nearly a century been the proud rulers of the animal world of those regions. They survived many a battle and many a hunter's efforts before the region was set aside as a refuge and they were supposedly safe. However, in recent years poachers had managed to kill all but one--Chokwane.
To us, hokwane was a most awesome sight. We had seen many elephants already in small herds and family units. There were small herds of bulls with mammoth tusks; big matriarchs with cute little babies running behind, hanging onto Mum's tail with their trunks. But we had not seen such a massive animal as Chokwane--not even close. His shoulders easily towered above our car 13 feet tal. One tusk was broken off about two thirds the way down; the other was full length--as in all the way to the ground! It had no point to it; it was worn flat against the ground it scraped on and was as thick at the end as it was up at the face--thicker than a strong man's thigh and likely weighed nearly 200 pounds. His tusks alone must be worth a real fortune to poachers. Only his face showed age as his massive cheeks and skull above the eyes were sunken in.
For just a few moments he slowly wandered parallel to us along the road. Then he ambled off into the thick brush and, in spite of his size, disappeared within moments. Although he is very old, obviously weakening and no longer has a heard of young bulls to share his wisdom with nor any other elephants to keep him company, rangers told us that when he shows up at a pan, all other animals give him the right-of-way -- it is their way of showing respect to a leader ad friend.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that we must show respect (honor) for certain people as well by quoting one of the commandments: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with promise: 'that it may be well with you..." (Ephesians 6:13). Peter extends that duty even more; he says, "Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God" (1 Peter 2:17).
Common courtesy includes respect not just for people who are "important" but for all others, such as our peers and even those we do not like very well. Courtesy wears well. It sets us apart and easily lets others know our lives and beliefs are different and worth finding out ore about. The Pathfinder Law tells me to...be COURTEOUS ad obedient.