There has been noisy huffing and puffing about Maori seats on the new Auckland Council.

There will be none. As John Armstrong, the most astute political observer writing in New Zealand newspapers noted, this was never going to be a deal-breaker for the coalition. And for the life of me, if Maori want representation on the council they are free, like anyone else, to organise a ticket. End of story.

I have been more interested in other things. We have all, I suspect, found ourselves moved by termination of the life of Kashin, one of the two elephants at the Auckland Zoo. Kashin was 40, she had been at the zoo since 1972 and she was loved by both the staff and the public alike. Zoo staff decided that Kashin had suffered enough illness. It was time to put her to sleep. They took Kashin into a paddock, told her to lie down, put some food near her and administered the drugs to end her life.

Her friend, Burma, was brought along to be with her. When Kashin was dead, we are told, Burma tried to lift Kashin's trunk and became distressed.

It is the affection for and loyalty to each other that moves us about the elephant, I guess.

Elephants live in small herds of females and their young. Males join the herd only for mating. A young male leaves the herd after about 12 years. A herd on the move walks in single file, the young in line behind mother, its trunk holding on to mother's tail.

Mother will always know where baby is. A brilliant, recently-released documentary, Earth, follows a herd making its way through the dry, dusty swirling storms of the Kalahari desert towards the annual bounty of the world's largest inland river delta. The Okovango, in Botswana, which for some, wonderful reason, floods in the dry season. Blinded by dust, in almost zero visibility, the mothers guide the little elephants on their relentless, patient journey to the water, encouraging them with a nudge when the youngsters falter. It is agonising to watch.

When at last they reach the clear, clean water, the elephants' joy seems almost human. They swim, they clean themselves, they dive, they play and they drink.

To see elephants in the wilds of Africa, as I have been lucky to do several times, is a wondrous experience. On one safari, with our camp on a water lily-covered bend in a river, we set off in the Land Rover early one morning.

Suddenly, from behind a thicket of bush appeared a herd of huge, dark brown elephants. Our guide said he had not seen this group before. The elephants, on seeing us, paused and watched. I asked if we could go closer.

The guide started the truck and we moved slowly forward. He stopped and turned off the engine. It was too much for the elephants, who immediately formed themselves into a laager, a tight circle with the young protected within.

Suddenly the trumpeting was terrifying, as one or two of the bigger animals began to move towards us.

The guide quickly re-started the engine, released the clutch and stalled.

It was an alarming few seconds of paralysis before we got going again and turned away. I became, for a time, very good at mimicking the sound of that fearsome elephant trumpet. There is nothing like that sound. When you hear that sound, you know who is boss.

Actually, it was on that safari that I saw the most moving thing I have ever seen in the animal world. We had spent the late afternoon driving round searching for the animals and as evening began to fall, the guide took us up a rocky, grass covered hill overlooking that magnificent, infinite Serengeti Plain. I could see how anyone who claimed this land or was born here, would fight to the death for it, as men and women have done for hundreds of years.

Doris Lessing called one of her first books The Grass is Singing. That image describes southern Africa for me and its beautiful natural grasslands. Up the hill we had rich, black coffee and a kind of hard scone, which in southern Africa they call biscuits.

As it got dark and we made to leave the hill and return to camp the sounds coming up from the plain were haunting. Wildebeest called to each other and there was the filthy laugh of the hyenas. As we drove onto the flat, the sky in its last minutes of light, there, standing alone and still, was a large bull wildebeest, like a big deer.

"What is he doing out here on his own at night, unprotected?" I asked.

"He is the sentry," said the guide. "He is old. He is out here to attract the lion. If he is attacked, his cries will warn the herd."

I marvelled at the self-sacrifice of the animal and the simplicity of it. And I still wonder how so-called dumb animals like wildebeest worked that out. I still wonder how they decide which animal gets that job and I still wonder how they communicate it to each other.

That night, close to camp we heard the grunting of a lion, followed shortly after by the screaming of an impala.

It might be a couple of years before Auckland Zoo replaces Kashin. Suits me. Elephants belong in the wild, free to roam their hundreds of kilometres, following their quiet habits of thousands of years.

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The Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, is facing fierce anger and indignation from all round the world and from his own Scottish Parliament over his release of the Lockerbie bomber. The Scots appear to be furious at him. MacAskill remains clear on the reasons he allowed al-Megrahi compassionate release. The man has months to live.

MacAskill says that despite the Lockerbie bomber showing no compassion to the 270 people he helped to kill, there was no reason why he, MacAskill, should deny his own compassion and not show a better side of humanity. He says he received assurances from Gaddafi that al-Megrahi's return would be low key.

Instead, the man got a hero's welcome in Tripoli, lights, cameras, action. MacAskill was probably naive to trust Gaddafi, who, it has to be said, is looking very mad these days.

Was MacAskill right to release the man? For the life of me, I do not know. But MacAskill is a good, Christian man dealing with very bad people.

And speaking of mad, a senior Australian psychiatrist who has examined Schapelle Corby in that hell-hole Balinese prison says Schapelle is now hallucinatory, deluded, paranoid and insane. She is disintegrating. He says she must be brought home to a prison where she can get treatment.

I have always believed her innocent of anything to do with that boogie board bag full of dope. I went to Brisbane at the height of the affair, went to her family home and met her father, her mother and a few of her best friends. Her family home was in one of Brisbane's poorer suburbs.

Downstairs, in the most cluttered garage I have ever seen, Schapelle's father had just opened a beer at a small bench. He wore a singlet and trousers. He was the most tired and defeated man I think I have ever met. There was nothing he could do.

Upstairs, Schapelle's mum Rosleigh described in quiet pain the hideous, degrading filth of where Schapelle was being held. Over a wall was Amrosi, she told me, the Bali bomber, who yelled across at Schapelle to taunt her.

Rosleigh told me that when she visited Schapelle, which for the obvious reason was not often, she took Jif to clean the toilets. Rosleigh shook her head as she contemplated the misery her daughter was now destined to endure for years.

It appears Schapelle is doomed now and may die. She is almost forgotten about by a world which, for a while, once thought of no one else.