Watch: Chinese children recite “Lament of an Elephant Calf”

There were many moving moments at the gala to launch IFAW’s campaign “Give Peace to Elephants, Say No to Ivory” last November in Beijing.

One emotional moment in particular that touched me, was the recital of a poem by 9-year old Chinese girls Peng Minghui and Miao Yixin, called “Lament of An Elephant Calf”.

Their recital, accompanied by a sand painting portraying an elephant slaughter scene on the Africa continent, moved many people to tears.

The poem was composed by Chinese poet Ma Rui in 2009. Inspired by IFAW’s “Mom, I have teeth” ad campaign, Ma donated the poem to the campaign to enlighten more Chinese consumers to change behavior.

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Watch the video above and read the poem’s full text below. 

Learn more about IFAW efforts to protect elephants on our campaign page.


Lament of an Elephant Calf

Author: Ma Rui

I am an elephant calf

The forests and grasslands are my home

I am an elephant calf

I love to cuddle up to my Mom

Seasons come and go

A kaleidoscope of colors in which I live

Sky is blue

Grass is green

This is the Heaven we roam

My Mom has beautiful tusks

White and curled like the crescent moon

Even fierce lions don’t dare attack

The tusks are the pride of our family

With giant bodies and sturdy steps

We love peace

And we are kind

I am an elephant calf

I dream of the day I will look like my Mom

But why is there sorrow in her eyes?

There was no wind that twilight

Bright red sun set on the horizon

Strange shadows prowled in the trees

Cold eyes peered from the darkness

A thunderous sound 

Blood spewed out of Mom’s chest

A deep groan mingled with

Hysterical laughter

Another blast

And another

Her giant body collapsed

A look of desperation

Mixed with motherly love

I am an elephant calf

No more can I cuddle up to my Mom

Wondering aimlessly on the vast savanna

Tears cast into the harsh winds

Flowers have no more color

Stars have lost their luster

Only later I came to know

Those strange shadows are called “people”

The thunderous blast came from a gun

They wanted my Mom’s crescent tusks

To make strange objects

From beautiful jewelry

To delicate collectibles

Beauty and Art

Stained with filth and blood

People’s greedy desire

Turned our heaven into graveyard

I am an elephant calf

I wonder alone in the dark

Everywhere the same tragedy repeats

Our bodies strewn all about

I am an elephant calf

Nature is the home we share with people

My human friends,

Please listen:

One refusal

Will stop a bloody killing

One purchase

Will cause a painful slaughter

Your action

Means life and death

To my kind

Bleak desolation await

When elephants disappear

Darkness around the corner

When animals are all gone 

I am an elephant calf

I am growing up

Just like my Mom

At that windless twilight

When the sun is setting

My human friends

Please tell me

What will be my destiny?

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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy