In South Africa’s Pilanesberg Park, rhinos were thriving until some of them began to get killed off. The rhinos were not killed by poachers and neither did they die of disease. So, who killed the rhinos?
Of the over 50 badly mutilated rhino carcasses discovered, all had wounds to the top of the shoulders and neck, This was clearly the work of elephants. Specifically, an out of control gang of 15 to 18 adolescent elephants who appeared to be in “musth.” Musth is a state in which young males are flooded with reproductive hormones, causing them to act aggressively. Normally, these young elephants would be kept in check by bigger bull elephants in the herd. But there weren’t any in Pilanesberg Park.
The problem goes back 20 years to South Africa’s largest conservation area, Kruger National Park. The park had too many elephants. In those days there was no way to relocate these large adults. So researchers decided to kill the adults and save the children, who were more easily transported to other parks, including Pilanesberg. As a result, there were no older bull elephants to push these youngsters out of musth. The huge rush of testosterone began overwhelming them, driving them to aggressive behaviour.
Finally, six large bulls were introduced from Kruger National Park. Within hours, the rampaging elephants had dropped out of musth and no more rhinos have been killed since. This story underscores the importance of a stable society and a father figure to provide boundaries for adolescent boys. Teen boys also need a role model. These elephants that left the herd had no role model and no idea of what appropriate elephant behaviour was.
By Parcsen Loke, Family Life Coach, Centre for Fathering. To reach Parcsen, please make an appointment at: calendly.com/iamparcsen.
Food for Thought: Teenagers have a reputation for being rebellious. They will go against the rules and wishes of their parents. What do you do when your teen starts to cross the boundaries you have set for him?