Is it because of their size, their quaint characteristics, or the the fact that they are so incredibly endearing as babies, tripping over little wobbly trunks that seem to serve no useful purpose other than get in the way?
Or is it, perhaps, because Elephants are "human" animals, encompassed by an invisible aura that reaches deep into the human soul in a mysterious and mystifying way.
Of course, Elephants share with us humans many traits - the same span of life, (three score years and ten, all being well) and they develop at a parallel pace so that at any given age a baby elephant duplicates its human counterpart, reaching adulthood at the age of twenty.
Elephants also display many of the attributes of humans as well as some of the failings. They share with us a strong sense of family and death and they feel many of the same emotions.
Each one is, of course, like us, a unique individual with its own unique personality. They can be happy or sad, volatile or placid. They display envy, jealousy, throw tantrums and are fiercely competitive, and they can develop hang-ups which are reflected in behaviour.
They also have many additional attributes we humans lack; incredible long range infrasound, communicating in voices we never hear, such sophisticated hearing that even a footfall is heard far away, and, of course they have a memory that far surpasses ours and spans a lifetime.
They grieve deeply for lost loved ones, even shedding tears and suffering depression. They have a sense of compassion that projects beyond their own kind and sometimes extends to others in distress.
They help one another in adversity, miss an absent loved one, and when you know them really well, you can see that they even smile when having fun and are happy.
By Daphne Sheldrick D.B.E.:
1992 UNEP Global 500 Laureate.