The disaster is still remembered today for its sheer destruction – the Indian Ocean tsunami. On December 26, 2004, an undersea earthquake struck off the coast of the Indonesian Island of Sumatra. Over the next several hours, a tsunami – a large ocean wave – triggered by the earthquake reached out across the Indian Ocean, devastating coastal areas as far away as East Africa. The destruction saw fourteen countries affected. Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia were badly affected in terms of human losses and physical damage. About 230,000 people were killed as a result of the tsunami. However, few animals were reported to have been killed.
Before giant waves slammed into Sri Lanka and India coastlines, wild domestic animals seemed to know what was about to happen and fled to safety. According to some eye witness accounts, elephants screamed and ran for higher grounds, flamingos abandoned their low-lying breeding areas, dogs refused to go outdoors. It was as if the animals knew that something was about to happen. They followed their instinct.
There are things animals simply know how to do without learning about it. When a bird builds a nest, it knows how to build it without having to learn from another bird. It knows the material to choose and the manner in which the nest is weaved to get the end shape. Those instructions are already there in the bird. There is often a bit of refinement with a more mature bird which will build a better nest but all the basics to build a nest are there in the bird the very first time a bird builds a nest.
What is an instinct? It is the ability of an animal to perform a behaviour the first time it is exposed to the proper stimulus. Every time a dog is exposed to food, it will drool including the first time. Babies have instincts. Place a nipple into a baby’s mouth and the baby will suck. The baby needs no instruction from anybody to suck for the first time. The instruction is already there in the baby. Imagine that a baby cannot suck. The baby then cannot feed and its survival is at risk. So the baby arrived in this world with the instruction that will help her survive.
Nobody teaches plants how to grow. One day I noticed that a pawpaw tree was growing behind the house. I am quite sure nobody intentionally planted the seed. Perhaps someone just left the seed there and before long, there was a plant. As I write, the tree keeps growing, and nobody even cares about in terms of seeing that it grows and yields fruit. Yet the tree grows and not long from now, there will be pawpaw for consumption. The tree has its own guidance that has enabled it to thrive till this very day. Humans have their own guidance system that enables them to thrive. The issue is whether they are in tune with that guidance system or not. That “guidance system” is what we may call intuition.