As with most interactions between human and elephant at Taronga, patience and respect are the key watchwords. “We showed the headpiece to Gung to see if he was interested in trying it on,” explains Westnedge, “and he loved the idea! We were surprised at how eager he was to wear it and he hasn’t once tried to touch or remove the camera.”
Gung has worn the camera during his daily exercise and play sessions; vital periods of physical activity designed to encourage elephants’ natural skills and provide needed mental stimulation. Besides offering a glimpse of the world through an elephant’s eyes, Westnedge hopes the GoPro footage would inspire people to take a more active role in protecting elephants in the wild: one of the main points of World Elephant Day.
Though the popular perception of elephants has gradually changed from being merely curiosities of nature to an endangered species worthy of our protection, the situation on the ground is still precarious for our jumbo-sized fellow mammals. Fueled by the pursuit of profit driven by greed and ignorance, poachers after ivory, meat and body parts kill an estimated 100 African elephants daily.
The Taronga Zoo provides funds and support to elephant conservation projects ands anti-poaching campaigns around the world, and no doubt Gung would be pleased to know his GoPro sessions have helped raised awareness of his wild cousins’ plight. (all images and info via WENN.com)