The Babar the Elephant book is sitting in front of me. I pick it up and start reading it. I remember reading it as a small Boy and enjoying it and imagining that I was friends with Babar, his constant Companion during all of his adventures. He went to the moon, I went with him. He fought Tomb Raiders in Egypt, I fought alongside him. He rescued his elephant girlfriend from Ivory Hunters on the Savanna, I coordinated the getaway. I loved that goddamn Elephant and I loved being his friend. In a childhood full of unhappiness and rage, Babar is one of the few pleasant memories that I have. Me and Babar, kicking some motherfucking ass.
An agile, well-trained, brave elephant, ridden by a good mahout, its trunk armed with the kind of sabre known as a qartal and covered with chain mail, while the rest of its body is protected by sheets of bark and iron, surrounded by 500 men to defend it and protect it to the rear, can fight against 6000 men on horseback.
Elephants, it turns out, are surprisingly stealthy. As the sunlight fades, other species declare their presence. Throngs of zebras and wildebeests thunder by in the distance, trailing dust clouds. Cape buffalo snort and raise their horns and position themselves in front of their young. Giraffes stare over treetops, their huge brown eyes blinking, then lope away in seeming slow motion. But no elephants.
Elephant, beyond the fact that their size and conformation are aesthetically more suited to the treading of this earth than our angular informity, have an average intelligence comparable to our own. Of course they are less agile and physically less adaptable than ourselves -- nature having developed their bodies in one direction and their brains in another, while human beings, on the other hand, drew from Mr. Darwin's lottery of evolution both the winning ticket and the stub to match it. This, I suppose, is why we are so wonderful and can make movies and electric razors and wireless sets -- and guns with which to shoot the elephant, the hare, clay pigeons, and each other.