one elephant, leopard, monkey, wild boar, crocodile or buffalo was
found dead in Sri Lankas Yala National Park following the massive
tsunami that hit this countrys shores. The large beasts residing
in this wildlife reserve climbed to higher ground before the apocalyptic
floodwaters hit, as if obeying a silent command to enter an invisible
Some wildlife officials credit the animals survival on instinct
or a type of sixth-sense. Elephants are said to have felt
the earth vibrate beneath them as the tsunami approached land. They
heeded what scientists refer to as natures warning system.
Ten-year-old Tilly Smith of Great Britain also heeded natures
warning system. On vacation with her mother at Maikhao beach in Phuket,
Thailand, she recognized the danger signs of an impending tsunami.
She recently studied harbor waves the English translation
for the Japanese word tsunami in school. Because of Tillys
awareness, one hundred tourists safely retreated to higher ground.
But tens of thousands of humans who didnt heed natures
warning system were tragically swallowed by the hungry waves of the
Indian Ocean. They perished because they relied solely upon technologys
Granted, blame can be placed, in part, on the inferior tsunami warning
system in Southeast Asia on technology that failed to correctly
measure the undersea quake on the Richter scale the first time and
hence, accurately predict the inevitability of a tsunami. Technology
that, once the quakes magnitude was correctly determined, relied
upon a poor communication system to alert people to the wall of water
boring their way. And there were small, remote islands obliterated
by the tsunami that no warning system could have saved.
But ignorance and arrogance also must be considered as contributing
factors in this disaster.
We are so busy sunning and shopping, safe in the microcosm of our
Miatas and Mercedes to take note of the natural world around us, to
heed our own animal instinct, our sixth sense or perhaps, our common
We demean the lower animals among us, seeking dominion
over them instead of connection. Personally, I have known when a serious
storm was approaching by the behavior of my dogs.
We neglect the care of the planet that sustains us and such neglect
is also capable of destroying us. We count on meteorologists to predict
our sunny and overcast days. We neglect scientific knowledge to our
peril. Some of us discount the threat of global warming to our environment,
including our Yale-educated president. We are so far removed from
our integral place in the universe and the animal kingdom we may no
longer know how to listen.
We are now left with tragic what-ifs. What if there had
been a more efficient tsunami warning system? What if more people
possessed Tillys knowledge?
And what if someone had noticed the mass exodus of the animals in
Yala National Park to higher ground?
Rhiannon Ross lives in Kansas. She can be contacted at Rhiannross@aol.com