Cynthia Moss

Director, Amboseli Trust for Elephants

Coming upon the carcass of poached elephant that I have known and followed for twenty or thirty years is the hardest part of being an elephant researcher. It is the immensity of that individual’s death that is so distressing. He or she had a rich, complex life with family and friends. That life involved growing up and all that learning that elephants have to do—where to go, what to feed on, where the water is, how to interact with other elephants, who and what is dangerous—all passed down from matriarch to matriarch, and from them to the family members. With each death, a bit of knowledge and experience is lost. For me each death is a failure on my part to protect that individual from the hand of man. That is the pain I feel when an elephant is killed, and it never diminishes.

Please visit for more stories about the illegal ivory trade and learn about the visit a group of conservationists made to an “ivory room” where confiscated elephant tusks are stored.