Rivaldo, the hero of our folly.

Rivaldo sleeping

Rivaldo sleeping

Rivaldo made it to the national news in this article: Tusker won’t leave village that treated him.


Rivaldo is a friendly elephant. Too friendly. Rivaldo has been habituated and fed long time ago by people who did not know what they were doing and then used this elephant for their entertainment – and income. Like most habituated elephants, he became confident with humans, probably visited a house and got its trunk cut. He could have died but he was treated. Other elephants were not so lucky: Roberto Carlos was fed – and shot in the leg. Cafu was fed – and shot. There is very little reason why Rivaldo should be grateful to humans, because he got his share of stones and fireworks. If we could teach him, we would ask him to stay as far as possible from humans. Even though journalists are trying to show elephants in a good light (elephants are nice), sensationalism gets the better. Unfortunately, it turns out that this was not such a heart-warming story. It is another banal, chilling example of human idiocy, cruelty and cynicism. Rivaldo is slowly becoming a circus elephant, fed by anything tourists will leave behind. His territory has become small and instead of roaming the jungle like his ancestors did, he explores wastelands. If you love wild animals, leave them alone. In the photograph attached, admire Rivaldo sleeping and see for yourself: we don’t disturb him. He comes and goes as he wishes and we don’t feed him. He is our wild friend and we respect his freedom. He is not our pet.

Jean-Philippe Puyravaud.