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“How To Control Your Elephant” Training

Locals push for elephant hunts and ivory trade

An empathy test

According to a recent report, there has recently been high-level debate in Namibia regarding ways to reduce the elephant population, which is considered too large at c24,000. There are also calls to find ways to sell the current stockpile of Ivory (worth N$1 billion) rather than give in to international pressure to burn it. 

As an elephant adopter via the incredible Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, I find the culling of elephants to reduce human/elephant conflict an appalling suggestion. 

I nearly triggered when I read the report. My instinctive, reactive brain wanted to explode in a barrage of expletives.

But I controlled it

I calmed down by engaging my inner Stop Routine, allowing my empathic brain to kick in and enabling me to see things from both sides.

  • When you are in fight/flight mode, you can't empathise because your inner dialogue is all about you.

As I see it, this is not an elephant population problem. It is a human problem.

Population growth causes the incursion of humans into places where elephants have been free to roam.  

But what if I'm wrong? 

Consider the other side.

  • Are elephants now going to places they traditionally never went to due to the easy pickings from human activity?
  • I can imagine the terror and loss experienced by a community when elephants trample over their crops, leaving them short of food.
  • I can also imagine the attraction of much-needed foreign trade to a country with a GDP per capita way lower than the UK.

Stop Routines and Empathy are key learning points of How to Control Your Elephant course.

They are the two most essential skills in customer service because they enable us to calm down and see things from the customer's perspective.

Empathy doesn't mean that we agree with or like something (or someone), but what it does is help us to communicate calmly rather than reactively.  

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